Friday, November 27, 2015

Thankful For The Limp

It's a great season to be thankful. "Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:20).

What are you thankful for?

Many have shared or posted in social media the things that they are thankful for:
Relationship with Christ
Opened doors/ opportunities
Dreams realized

My prayer is that our gratefulness will not be limited to this Thanksgiving weekend or the holiday season, but will remain an attitude of gratitude that is a lifestyle.  One writer said, "Gratitude takes what we have and turns it into enough." I couldn't agree more.  Each of us has so much to be grateful for. All that we have, if we are honest, is more than enough.

Have you stopped to thank God for your life?
Your life was made on purpose. You were not a mistake and God took great care in tailoring making your body, mind and spirit so that you can be the 'YOU' that He intended.

"Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I chose you..." (Jeremiah 1:5).

Aren't you glad that no one can beat you being you? God, the creator of the earth and the world,  made each of us uniquely and purposefully. We should pause often to simply be thankful for who He is and for who He has made us to be.

Every hair, fingerprint, dimple, freckle, personality trait, and strength that each of us has were designed to reflect God's image.  Aren't we thankful for His generosity in His creativity and creation?

You know what else we can be thankful for? Life's setbacks, strains and struggles.

That sounds strange to some to hear because we are use to being thankful for material things, for people that we love and for unforgettable opportunities, but the older we become the more we see the maturity and testimony that struggles bring. We can be thankful for struggles? Yes, there is a blessing in struggle.
Have you taken a moment to praise God for life's hiccups and painful moments?
Just like God designed  our lives, families, fingerprints, character, opportunities and paths, He has also designed our struggles.

Our devastating moments, failures, betrayals, moments of loss, and hurts may also bring His heart great pleasure-not because He likes to see us hurting, but because He knows what the hurts will produce. "That I may know Him..."(Philippians 3:10) can not be a verse that we memorize without it having a message that is internalized.  Knowing God in an intimate way involves suffering. Knowing Him involves growing in Him.

Pause a moment and thank God for opportunities to grow in Him, to grow in patience, to grow in hope, in forgiveness, in humility and in resilience.

"Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Someone may be struggling with receiving a pink slip after a lay off or the impact of being fired. Someone else may be dealing with the pain of transition, the surprise of a recent diagnosis, the side effects of a new medicine, the adjustment of being a single mother or father, the agony of losing a spouse to death or divorce, the ups and downs associated with starting a new business, the discomfort of launching out into new territory or a friendship that has gone sour.  Someone may be enduring being called out of your name or suffering due to your religious beliefs.

Perhaps you are not experiencing any of those things, but have found yourself feeling overwhelmed or discontent because life doesn't seem as calm or comfortable as it use to be.

There's good news! "God will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

He not only walks with us on the mountains but He also walks with us in the valleys of our experiences.

In the recent months, there have been many walks to support breast cancer, diabetes, aids and other life altering diseases that need global recognition.  One of the signs that I appreciate seeing posted at national races for the cure says, "Limping is still walking."  It is so encouraging because it helps runners, joggers and walkers to see that you are still in the race even if you are limping.

It is very important to know that just because we experience 'limps' in life that we must not lose sight that we can still 'walk.' Limping means that we may walk slower. It means that we find a new perspective and a new norm, but it doesn't give us an excuse to quit, to become consumed by defeat or depression.  Limps are still reflections of God's grace.

A few months before I married my husband I went on a mission trip. It was an extraordinary trip to Izmir, Turkey.  Although there were many life changing experiences involved with studying the 7 churches of Asia Minor, prayer time and tours with classmates, witnessing to non-believers, meeting great Turkish people and learning about their incredible culture, my trip took on a new lens when I had an accident and injured both legs, both ankles, knees and both feet. I returned to the states with a temporary limp and a testimony.  Although I got back to school, ministry and life as normal, by the time my wedding day rolled around, I still had to wear a knee brace under my wedding gown to give me support and to relieve pain.

The brace was present but not disabling. It didn't stop me from having a wonderful time. It didn't stop me from walking down the aisle to the man of my dreams, greeting guests and it didn't stop me from dancing the night away.  It was also an ocular demonstration to me of an incident that changed me but didn't cripple me.

The brace was a reminder of grace!

What's your 'limp?'

What's your brace?

 What has changed your life and is a reminder to you of God's continued grace...of God's amazing grace?

Take a moment and praise God for His brace of grace on your life. He is our brace!

Jesus had been mocked, humiliated and beaten all night long. He was so exhausted that He didn't carry His own cross to the place 'of the skull.'  Yet, He didn't allow insults and exhaustion to keep Him from His purpose. He continued pushing His way to the cross because the cross was where He would complete His earthly mission. It was the entire reason that He was born.

If Jesus didn't allow cramps, fatigue, burnout, bleeding, threats or pain to keep Him from living out His mission, surely you and I can continue our mission as well.

Sunday can not be welcomed unless Friday is endured. Finish the race!

Victory is on the way! Suffering leads to strengthening.

Remember, just because you're limping doesn't mean that you can't walk. 

Dear Lord, thank you for life's limps and lessons. We ask that you will endow us with your power to overcome life's challenges. Thank you for victory over all things. We praise you for being the brace of grace that keeps us steady and strengthened. Receive glory and honor in our celebrations and in our suffering. Thank you for a promised day of victory in the race that you have already won.
In Jesus name, Amen!