Friday, October 31, 2014

When Even Plan B Goes Awry…

When Even Plan B Goes Awry…  
Posted by Michelle 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will council you with My eye upon you.
-  Psalm 32:8 (NASB)

I am one of those people who loves making plans. I like planning my days, filling out planners, schedules, and calendars. Not only do I make a plan A, B, and C, I also make a plan D just to be “safe.” Overkill? Absolutely. I also like making plans in a broader way. I plan out goals and dreams that I want to achieve. But, here is what I’ve learned over the years about myself, planning, and God’s say in matters. 

He is a better planner than I am.

His plans always work out. They are always best for everyone in the long run (even when we can’t see that far ahead). His plans develop, grow, and shape us. His plans are better and more intricate than anything we could come up with. 

But, I really, really like making plans! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Planning ahead makes us more organized, more productive, and typically prevents inconveniences. The determining factor of whether or not your love of planning is healthy or not is this: what do you do when God’s plans supersede yours? 

It is bound to happen! The all-knowing Coordinator of the universe has a way of bringing unexpected events and circumstances across your path. These are unavoidable, unplanned for, and many time inconvenient interruptions in your picture-perfect plan. A talkative neighbor drops by just as you are leaving for the store; your mom suddenly needs your help doing laundry when you wanted to hang out with friends; traffic makes you late for work; etc. 

One response is to become annoyed or frustrated and try to get back on track with your own plan as soon as humanly possible. Your perfect plan is calling! A different response is to see these interruptions for what they are – moments planned by God. These moments are forks in the road, and if you take just a second to ask God what He would like you to do, you will find that He has a better path than yours mapped out for you. 

You might find out that the neighbor that is so talkative is really lonely. You might find that your mom has been overwhelmed and having help would be such a relief to her. You could be avoiding a catastrophe by being delayed in traffic. You could possibly be the only bright light in a difficult world that a person sees that day. You never know… But God does.

We can make plans, but we have to be able to let go of them and follow God’s leading when unexpected moments come. We have this idea that we can plan out our options and decisions along the roadways of life that will then make our lives stress free and convenient. But, can we really know what today brings, let alone tomorrow? Sometimes if feels as if we are riding a roller coaster backwards – one where there are forks in the tracks and the way you lean determines which fork you go down. (Terrifying analogy - I know). You never would be able to really know what is going to happen next. But, by listening to His guidance and instruction, we can be ready to lean into the right turns when they come along and hold on tight to Him during the sudden drops. He knows what is ahead.

When your plan for the day doesn’t work out, and even your plan B goes awry, take a moment to remember that God might have something else in mind for you today. Remember that, if you pay attention, He will “…instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go…”  (Ps. 32:8, NASB). We just have to pay attention. Once you let go of your own plans you will be amazed by the things God has planned out instead.

Damaged - Delivered

Damaged - Delivered  
Posted by Sarah 

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound
          -  Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)

I’ve met people over the years that have been damaged by a fallen world. Damaged by those who were damaged themselves. They are the walking wounded that have held years of secrets manifested in anger, tears, addictions, relationships, and scars on their arms. For these people life stops at that one moment – the moment they were damaged. 

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the Unites States. According to Safe Horizon, that fights against violence, 1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment, 1 in 16 suffer from sexual abuse, and nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence. Safe Voices, that works to end domestic violence reports 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship (26%) endure repeated verbal abuse. Additionally, a study done at Women’s College Hospital in 1995 reported that in 1,000 women 15 years of age or older, 36% had experienced emotional abuse while growing up, 43% had experienced some form of abuse as children or adolescents, and 39% reported experiencing emotional abuse in a relationship in the past five years. According to The Covering House who helps girls who have been trafficked or exploited, 300,000 children are being at risk of being prostituted in the United States while the average age of the girl who is prostituted ranges from 13-14 years old. 

The National Child Abuse Statistics stated that in 2007, there were over three million reported cases of child abuse in the U.S. involving as many as six million children.  Additionally, The Domestic Violence Resource Center estimates the number of incidents of domestic violence range from just under a million to several million per year. It is also estimated that 70 percent of people know of friends or family who have been abused. 

I can’t tell you how many of these wounded people stay untreated and unhealed because of their shame and embarrassment. They are often the untouchables who keep you at arms length for fear of rejection or hurt. Others are bitter or cynical while some drown their hurt in various vices. Sadly others painfully suffer the pain of victimization through depression and fear.  

I have met too many who experienced abuse:

· Sexually 
· Emotionally 
· Verbally 
· Physically

Their stories are all different and so are their ages ranging from five years old to their eighties. They all have the same story – they have been damaged. 

Although our society has tried to start a conversation on this issue, still many haven’t begun to engage in it. It has been silenced or buried in the recess of the heart and mind. It’s become a taboo. Something we are uncomfortable with. Something we don’t want to hear. Yet, the cries of the damaged are longing to be heard. Longing for someone to listen. 

There is Someone. He understands their cry because He was damaged Himself. 

His name is Jesus. 

In the Bible, the books of Psalms, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all tell us of the agony Jesus would experience as a victim of abuse. Years ago He who was innocent was accused of blasphemy. Taken away from loved ones. Beaten and mocked. Spit upon. Flogged. Crowned with thorns. Stripped of His clothing and dignity and nailed to a cross with notorious criminals. He suffered an excruciating, humiliating death where He hung naked. Where he suffocated and died. 

Jesus can identify with the damaged. Isaiah 53 talks openly about Christ’s suffering calling Him in verse three “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” and then in verse 4 Someone who has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Jesus understands the damaged.

Ever since the first man and women (Adam and Eve) choose to take their own path away from God, the world has become fallen. Sin entered the world and God’s heart broke as He saw man abusing his freewill by choosing to commit dark, heinous, acts - acts that He never condoned or had in His plan for humanity.

Jesus loved the damaged so much that He became our remedy. Developing a plan from the beginning of time, God revealed His concern and solution to the problem in Isaiah 61 and proclaimed it Himself in Luke 4:16-22 . He would become our Savior.

God’s promised in Isaiah 61:

· Healing for the brokenhearted
· Liberty for captives
· Freedom for those who are bound
· Comfort for all who mourn
· Beauty for ashes
· Mourning for joy  
· Heaviness for praise

These promises are salve on the wounds of the damaged. Jesus understands and wants to heal. He can do this because He not only went to the cross to forgive and bring us into a relationship with Himself but He also rose to be a living God who saves hurting humanity and gives hope.

Isaiah 61 is the gentle offer of help from Jesus to those who have been damaged.  When trust is shattered and you are broken, Jesus Christ is a safe place. Psalm 32:7 states this saying, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” 

Jesus wants the damaged to know that they are not alone. God’s Word (the Bible) doesn’t shy away from the truth. In fact, the Bible paints the world as it showing real people who experienced real issues like abuse. Take Joseph whose story is written in Genesis 37:18-28. A victim of his jealous brothers who were conspiring to kill him, Joseph was stripped of his clothing, thrown in an empty pit without water, and then sold Joseph into slavery. Then there was Tamar, who was innocently tricked and raped by her half brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-22). 
Yet, Jesus didn’t just address the issue, but also provided hope for the damaged. In Zephaniah 3:5, God advocated for those who were abused saying, “The Lord is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.” Although people will fail, God will always be good, always fight for what’s right, and never fail us.

Additionally, God is calling for us to look like Himself. God often uses people to be safe place for those who are hurting. Listening ears. A place to confide. A shoulder to cry on. Someone who cares. Maybe Isaiah 61 is also for us.

For the damaged there is deliverance. There is healing - It’s found in Jesus Christ; Savior, Healer, and Safe Place. 

* Dedicated to the damaged 

“He will love you,
Like no one’s loved you,
And you will never be afraid… 
You’re His children,
How much He loves you,
He will never leave you alone” 

Plumb - Damaged [Redemption Extended Version] (2010)