Doubt

“Occupy your mind with My love, leaving no room for worry and doubt.”

doubt

Doubt is like a bad penny.  It always keeps turning up.  It seems that no matter how many times we see the hand of God working in our lives, there is always room for doubt.  Even when we have a close relationship with Him, there are times when we still have doubts.  The disciples, who spent so much time with Jesus, still had doubts.  When Jesus told them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” they thought He was referring to food.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “You have so little faith!  Why are you worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever understand?  Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over?  Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over?  How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6-13) He was reminding them that each time they needed food, He was able to provide.  Then it dawned on them that He wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples had seen Him perform miracles before and they had forgotten how He had fed thousands of people with what seemed like very little food.  He had made a little go a long way.  Like the disciples, we too doubt the power of God and He has to remind us.

The disciples doubted the resurrection.  The Bible says, it was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping.  But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.  Jesus also appeared to two other people.

At first they didn’t recognize Him because He had changed His appearance but once they realized that it was Him, they rushed back to tell the others but they didn’t believe them.   When Jesus appeared to the eleven, He rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:9-14).  In the Gospel of Matthew, it says, that when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Mary had taken good news to the disciples but they allowed doubts to spoil what should have been a joyful moment.  Sometimes we allow doubts to get the better of us and we miss out.  Doubts could prevent us from seeing God’s blessings.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ time had the Light but their doubts kept them in darkness.  Doubts can hinder us from doing the Lord’s work.  Doubts can rob us of great opportunities.

Jesus does not want us to worry or have doubts.  He wants us to focus instead of Him and what He can do for us.  The next time you start to doubt Him, remember these words, “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe”.

Never doubt, only trust and believe.  Remember all the times Jesus came through for you.   Fill your mind with His love and promises.  Don’t clutter your mind with doubts.  As Paul advised us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Searching the scriptures will also help.  Diffuse the doubts with God’s Word.  Whenever you have a task to do and you start to have doubts about it, say to yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

The Preacher’s Son

63bd04344f09d5e8bd3b06820c0af8c2The first time I saw her, I knew that I was in very serious trouble.  We met at my sister’s wedding.  She’s my brother-in-law Jack’s secretary.  She went with a male co-worker and I went with Rachel, a woman I have been dating for a while.  Both our families have this expectation that we are next in line to get married.  I’m not sure why they think that.  Granted, Rachel is a terrific person, very beautiful and I enjoy her company but there was something missing.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It wasn’t until I met Leila that I realized what was missing for me in my relationship with Rachel–sexual desire.  I never felt it for her but the moment I laid eyes on Leila, I wanted her.  After we met, I could hardly take my eyes off her and the first opportunity I got, I asked her to have dinner with me even though I was still dating Rachel.  Leila accepted.  I took her to a restaurant which had gotten rave reviews and we had a great time.  I asked her out after that and we started dating.  Things were going well.  I made sure that I never went to her place or she came to mine because I was afraid of what would happen.  It was hard being with her and not want to touch her. When I was with Rachel I thought about her and wondered if she was thinking about me.  For a long while, I was dating both women unbeknown to them.  Not the sort of thing you would expect from a preacher’s son, is it?

At nights when I was alone, I thought about Leila and what it would be like to make love to her.  Then, I recalled the scriptures in the Bible which spoke against pre-marital sex.  What was I going to do?  I wanted Leila but I couldn’t have her because of my religious convictions.  Should I break up with her and marry Rachel?  How could I marry Rachel when I didn’t love her?  I ended up breaking up with her much to our families’ chagrin.  It didn’t matter when I tried to explain to them that she would be better off with a man who would love her in return.  They made me feel like I had committed the unpardonable sin.  I knew that I had done the right and honorable thing.  If only I knew what to do about Leila.

Leila knew that I was a Christian but she didn’t know that my father was a preacher.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tell her that.  Would she treat me differently?  I thought of talking to my father about my relationship with her but I knew that he wouldn’t approve.  I can just hear him say, “You need to end your relationship with this woman because you aren’t like her.  She doesn’t believe in the things you do.  The two of you don’t belong together.  It’s like light and darkness which cannot be together.”

Last night when Leila and I were together, she said to me, “I’ve dated Christian men in the past but I never once thought that I would be attracted to one who’s younger and white until I met you.  You’re different.  I think about you constantly and I can’t help wondering what it would be like to sleep with you.”

I stiffened although my body was reacting to the idea of sleeping with her.  “Leila, I don’t think we should be talking about this…”

“I know that you’re a Christian and you don’t want to have sex before you get married, but there isn’t any harm in us kissing, is there?”  Before I could answer, she was kissing me.  Her hands were pressing down on my thighs as she leaned over.  We were in my car, parked outside of her building.  We had been to a Mozart concert.  The windows were rolled up and it was dark where we were so no one could see us.  I lost my head and kissed her back.

For several minutes, we exchanged passionate kisses and I was tempted–really, really tempted to go up to her flat with her but I had to be strong even if it killed me.  I groaned against her lips before I pulled away.  “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”

She sat back in the seat.  “I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said.  “I shouldn’t have kissed you.”

“Leila, maybe we should stop seeing each other for a while,” I said.

“If that’s what you really want.”

“Leila…”

“Goodbye, Leif.” She got out of the car before I could say anything else and ran up the steps leading to the front entrance of her building.  I watched her go, my heart breaking.

Prodigal

The next several weeks were torture for me.  I thought about her every minute and missed her so very much.  I wanted to call her and tell her that I had made a mistake.  I wanted to drive over to her place and take her in my arms.  I was a wreck.  I couldn’t eat or sleep or think straight.  I went to church but I found no joy in it.  I went through the motions and I felt guilty.  I asked God to forgive me for allowing my feelings for Leila to replace my adoration for Him.

I decided to go away on a mission trip to Peru just to get my mind off my own problems and to focus on helping others and sharing the Gospel with them.  Unfortunately, being miles away in a foreign country and on another continent didn’t dampen my feelings for Leila.  I still wanted her.  I still ached for her.

It was harder at nights when I was alone.  During those times, I wished that she was lying next to me.  One night, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 7 and the words, But if they cannot control their bodies, then they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust” jumped out at me and I asked myself, Why don’t I marry Leila?  It made perfect sense to me.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without her.  But then, at the more I thought about it the more I realized that it would be wrong to marry her just to satisfy my lust.  How could I be so selfish?  No, the best thing for me to do was to move on.

That was easier said than done.  I tried to move on with my life–forget about Leila by busying myself at work and church but nothing worked.  And now, several weeks since my return from Peru,  I’m standing in her flat, hands in pockets, facing her.

“So, how was your trip to Peru?” she asked.

“It was rewarding.”

“I see.”

“I miss you.  I think about you all the time.”

“I miss you too.”

“Leila, during these past several weeks, I have realized something really important.”

“What’s that?”

“I can’t live without you.  I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“What are you saying, Leif?”

“I’m saying that I want to marry you, Leila.”

“You’re a preacher’s son, Leif.  I wouldn’t be a suitable wife for you.”

I stared at her.  “You know that my father’s a preacher?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you known?”

“Since we met.  Jack told me.”

“And it didn’t bother you?”

“No.  Why should it?”

“I was worried that it might, especially after you told me that church wasn’t for you.”

“I used to go to church you know but after a while I hated going because the single and married women didn’t like me.  The married women thought that I was after their husbands and the single women resented me because most of the single men were interested in me.  The guy I ended up dating dumped me after he became a deacon.  He said that I wouldn’t be suitable as his wife because I wasn’t a virgin.  I was good enough to sleep with but not to marry.  I left the church right after that.  I wasn’t right for him and I wouldn’t be right for you for the same reason.  How would it look a preacher’s son getting hitched to a sinner like me–a wanton woman–a woman of ill repute–a pariah?”

“You’re none of those things.  You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman.  It isn’t your fault that men want you.  And being a preacher’s son didn’t prevent me from going to wild parties and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  I’m not a virgin.  I had several girlfriends but what got me back on the right track was a pregnancy scare.  It turned out that my girlfriend’s period was late.  We were both relieved that she wasn’t pregnant. I cleaned up my act them.  I stopped partying, hanging out with the wrong people and decided that I would wait until I’m married to have sex again.  I became a born again Christian and you can do the same.  Nothing is impossible with God.”

“I still believe in Him even though I don’t go to church anymore.”

“I want you to know that He loves you, Leila.  He never stopped.  All He wants is to have a relationship with you if you will give your heart and your life to Him.  It isn’t too late to do so.”

“You sound like a preacher’s son,” she said, smiling.  Her eyes were moist as they met mine.  “Maybe that’s your calling–to follow in your father’s footsteps.”

“No, my calling is to remind people that God loves them like I’m doing right now.  And I believe that it was He who brought us together.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes!  And I’m so thankful to Him because I love you, Leila.”  It was true.  I realized it last night.  I was in love with her.  I wasn’t marrying her to satisfy my lust.

“I love you too.  I didn’t want to fall in love with you because of our differences but I couldn’t help myself.”

“Sometimes the differences between two people can enrich their relationship because each person brings something to the other.”

“I’m not like you when it comes to spiritual things but I have a lot to offer you.”

“I know you do and that’s why I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  I reached for her and pulled her into my arms.  “So, how do you feel about marrying a preacher’s son?” I asked.

She put her arms around my neck.  “I feel blessed and humbled,” she said simply.

I smiled and kissed her.  I too felt blessed and thankful because she was the woman I was meant to be with.

Source:  Lang-8

Strayed/Open #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

I walked into the house.  It was quiet.  It meant he hadn’t come as yet.  The corridor stretched endlessly before me.  I wondered what to do while I waited for him.  Ahead was the door leading to the large and cozy living-room.  That’s where he and I sat, curled up on the sofa, listening to Smooth Jazz while sipping wine.  I could wait in there.  I could go into the kitchen and prepare something for us to eat.  Or I could go upstairs and slip into something more comfortable.

I slipped off my sandals and walked through the first open door which led to the winding staircase.  I went upstairs to the master bedroom with the enormous canopy bed where he and I enjoy many trysts. I opened my overnight bag and took out my new black negligee.  I changed into it and put my clothes in the chair beside the door.  I ran my fingers through my hair as I crossed the carpet to look out of the window.

The view was splendid.  Thick foliage dotted the sprawling well maintained garden.  I loved this house.  It held so many wonderful memories for me albeit stolen ones.  This was our love nest.  I sat down on the window seat, drew my knees up and wrapped my arms around them.  Any moment now, I should hear the approach of his car.  As soon as I do, I will run down to greet him with a hug and a kiss.

I tried not to think about what I was doing.  I had tried not to do that for five years now.  Growing up in a Christian home, I was always taught that marriage was sacred and that adultery was a sin.  I used to look down on friends and family whom I knew were having extramarital affairs.  Not once did I imagine that one day I would do the very thing I condemned others for.  When I met Julian, I didn’t know that he was married.  He was handsome and charming.  I fell quickly and hard.

We started seeing each other.  I suspected that something was up when we always go together at my place and I was never invited to his.  And we went to certain restaurants and I didn’t have his home number.  I didn’t know where he worked or anything about his family.  Whenever I wanted to introduce him to mine, he would find some excuse why he couldn’t.  One night, I asked him pointblank if he was in a relationship.  He reluctantly admitted that he was married.  That floored me.  A girlfriend or even a fiancee I could deal with but a wife?

When he saw my reaction, he apologized for not being open and honest with me.  He said that he was afraid that if I knew that he was married, I wouldn’t get involved with him.  He knew I was a Christian and what I believed.  I went home that night and cried.  I was so torn up inside about the whole thing.  I was madly in love with him.  I loved being with him.  I was happiest when I was with him.  He was my world.

For weeks, I wrestled with my heart and my conscience.  My heart won and I continued seeing him.  I stopped going to church because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.  I still read my Bible but I avoided the scriptures which spoke of adultery and fornication and such things.   I loved Julian and I wanted to be with him.

I know that Julian loves me and I make him happy.  I don’t think he loves his wife or that he’s happy with her.  I hope that one day, he will end his marriage.  Until then, I will continue to see him on the quiet like this.  I hear his car now.  Eagerly, I rise from the window seat and race out of the room.  Taking two steps at a time, I reach the bottom of the staircase just as he opens the door and steps into the foyer.  He smiles when he sees me and as soon as he closes the door, I rush over to him and throw my arms around him.  He laughs, picks me up, swings me around before he kisses me.

At this moment, I’m not thinking about his wife or how far I have strayed from my moral principles.  All that matters right now is that we are together.

The few hours I spend with you are worth the thousand hours I spend without you.purelovequotes.com

bw of woman looking out window

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Open at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Redeemed

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Mark 15:34

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When Jesus was on the cross, He was mocked.  Those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”  The religious leaders joined in the ridicule as well, saying, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”  It must have been painful for Jesus to hear them say those things.  These were the same people of whom Jesus asked of God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

They had no idea of what was really at stake.  They were mocking Jesus about not saving Himself not realizing that wasn’t His purpose at all.  As He pointed out at the time of His arrest, if He wanted to spare Himself the agony of the Cross, “…do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:53, 54). 

Had Jesus come down from the cross to save Himself, we would all be lost and eternally separated from God.  Love for the Father and us kept Jesus on that cross.  He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.  He was the Savior of the world.  God sent Him to die in our stead so that we could have everlasting life.  John 3:16 puts it so beautifully, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When God sent Jesus into the world, it wasn’t to condemn the world but to save it through Him (Verse 17, NKJV).  The cross is our salvation and evidence of God’s incredible love for us. 

As much as it pains me to see Jesus hanging from the cross whenever I watch a biblical movie about His life, it reminds me of what Jesus said to Nicodemus.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Verses 14 & 15). 

Sin separates us from God.  When Jesus was on the cross, bearing our sins, He was separated from the Father.  That was why He cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).  Jesus became the Sin-bearer and it was that sin that the Father condemned.  Jesus was forsaken for our sake so that we would be forgiven for our sins once we accept His atoning work on the cross.

How terrible it is to be separated from our heavenly Father.  This sobering thought should motivate us not to live any longer like other people in the world do but to live as Jesus did–in loving obedience to the Father.  He was obedient even on to death.

Jesus laid down His life for us to show His love.  How can we return this love?  We do so by obeying Him and having faith in Him.  Today and everyday, let us live our lives for the One who willingly went to and stayed on that cross so that He could redeem us to God by His blood (Revelation 5:9).  Our redemption came a great cost (1 peter 1:18-19).

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed thro’ His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am – Hymn #338

The Worst News

The worst news for a woman to hear is that she will never be able to have children.

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Before I watched the episode of Greenleaf where Sophia had a medical emergency which turned out to be Ovarian Torsion, I had no idea that condition even existed.  What is it?  It is a condition which occurs when an ovary twists around the ligaments that hold it in place. This twisting can cut off blood flow to the ovary and Fallopian tube. Ovarian Torsion can cause severe pain and other symptoms because the ovary is not receiving enough blood.

The symptoms are:

  • an adnexal or pelvic mass
  • nausea
  • severe pelvic pain
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abnormal bleeding

For Sophia, it was a sharp pain in her side.  She first experienced it when she was out jogging then twice on another occasion.  The third time was very severe and she was rushed to the hospital where she was prepped with surgery because she was diagnosed with Ovarian torsion.  While on an anesthetic drug, she was talked about how her boyfriend, Roberto wanted to marry because at lunch he told her that he respected her boundaries and could see a future with her. Before going under, Sophia was dreaming about weddings, houses with mailboxes, puppies, and babies.

In Sophia’s case, the cause of the torsion were two large ovarian cysts interfering with Sophia’s organs. The doctors fixed the problem but couldn’t preserve the ovaries. Sophia will never be able to have kids of her own.  Her mother, Grace had to give her the terrible news which she did.  The scene was heart-wrenching when Sophia broke down and cried.  Grace tried to comfort her telling her that she could have children another way-meaning adoption and said something to the effect that God’s got her back.  Sophia’s response was to wonder why God would let that happen to her.

As with any unexpected and painful life changes, a person’s faith will be tested and Sophia is no different.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Will she turn away from God or will she cling to Him?  And how would her condition affect her relationship with Roberto?  Hopefully, he will stand by her.

My heart ached for Sophia, a young, lovely girl whose dreams of becoming a wife and mother one day were crushed.  How many Sophias are out there living with the painful reality that they will never be able to have kids of their own?  What do you say to someone who found out that she can never have children?  You don’t tell that this was God’s will.  Let God tell her that Himself.  Just tell her that you’re sorry and be there for her.  If she gets angry with God, let her.  He can handle it.  Don’t quote scriptures to her, don’t try to explain why this has happened to her.  Don’t be like Job’s friends.  They were more comforting to him when they were silent.  Just be there for her.

Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them – Veronica Roth, Divergent

Sources:  Medical News Today; We are the 94 Percent

Partakers

The sun meets not the springing bud that stretches towards him with half the certainty that God, the source of all good, communicates himself to the soul that longs to partake of him — William Law

True peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God and will be deep and passing all understanding in the exact measure in which we live in and partake of the love of God – Alexander MacLaren

Great reservoirs of spiritual water, called scriptures, have been provided in this day and have been safeguarded that all might partake and be spiritually fed. The purest word of God, and that least apt to be polluted, is that which comes from the lips of the living prophets who are set up to guide Israel in our own day and time – Harold B. Lee

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy – 1 Peter 4:12, 13

Victory Through Jesus

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:57

This Easter, I find myself reflecting on the victory we have through Jesus which He made possible when He died on the cross, taking away our sins and reconciling us to the Father.  Through His death, He destroyed the devil who had power of death (Hebrews 2:14), our last enemy which will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).  One day the righteous will be resurrected and come out of their graves to meet their Lord and those who are still alive when He comes will join them.  This is only possible because of Jesus who “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). 

He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken – Isaiah 25:8

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Imagine the day when God Himself will wipe our tears away.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your sting?  O grave, where is your victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55

We have reason to rejoice and this Easter Sunday, we cab celebrate the empty tomb which could not hold our Lord.  He rose on the third day as He promised.

‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.’ Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away” – Revelation 21:4

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One day, we will meet Jesus face to face.  What a glorious day that will be.  Hold on to this blessed hope until He comes again.