Friday, July 15, 2005

Weekly Word for July 15 - 22, 2005


Weekly Word - July 15, 2005

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(Romans 8: 35)

A few weeks ago, while shopping in one of the local stores, I met up with a girl who I met when I moved to the area. I liked her from the moment we met, and knew only a little bit about her. She had a son about the same age as my son, she worked in one of the local stores, and was easy to talk with whenever we would meet. So on this day, we talked about her son and her birthday that was coming up. We laughed as she told me that he had finally given her a card “before” her birthday. And then I asked her a question - and I don’t know why I did. “Do you have a husband?” “Or a boyfriend?” I knew that I wanted to know if they would be giving her a present - but the look she gave me - well, it made me stop and wonder . . .

As she looked at me, I wondered why she seemed so nervous and unable to answer me. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked. She looked at me a little cautiously - and then said: “Well, you being religious - - - I wasn’t sure if I could tell you.” I laughed. “Well you don’t know me very well then.” I told her. But neither of us did - we didn’t really know each other at all. She had judged me - - - just like she had felt judged . . .

God is the one who justifies; - - - who is the one who condemns?
(Romans 8: 33b & 34a)

Who is the one who condemns? I have to admit, there have been many times in my life when I have felt “judged” by others. There have also been times when I made judgments that I shouldn’t have! Most of us have felt rejected or unwanted by others in our lives. These are the times when we wonder about who we are - and how to “be” . . . .

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Bless and curse not . . .
(Romans 12: 9 & 14)

There were three of us, all the same age, living on the same street - when I was growing up. Two of us were redheads - and the other had dark curly hair. We were alike in many ways, and also very different from each other. Carolyn, Junie, and I played together almost every day. We would play dolls and house, dress-up and every other game that little girls liked to play. As much as we played together though - we also fought! There seemed to always be a battle over “who” would be my “best friend”! Carolyn would decide that she was - - - and so Junie would stay home. I would go between the two houses - trying to get each of them to play together. It wouldn’t take long, and soon the three of us were playing again. Until one or the other decided to fight again.

As we grew, the friendship started to change. There was more jealousy and competition in the relationship. We were leaving elementary school and heading into 6th grade, which meant we would be divided into classes by our grades and how smart we were. Each of us boasted about being smarter than the other two - while wondering if we really were! On that first day of class, as we read through the papers posted outside the school, I saw their names on the sheet for the 2nd classroom. Then I found my name. It was on the sheet for the 1st classroom. I was in the top class! And I was alone . . .

Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (Romans 12: 16)

From that moment on, things were different. Carolyn and Junie were now “best friends”. They shared everything - homework, classroom jokes, and boys they liked - and I was left out. Throughout that whole year, I tried to keep us together. But it was almost too late - for the three of us.

When that year ended, we went back to spending time together. We were now going into Junior High School, and we felt like we were really getting so much older. We liked boys, and were starting to become young women. It was the 60’s - and girls were dressing in mini-skirts and all sorts of “cool” clothes. We all wanted to dress like the older girls - we wanted to be in style and part of the “in” group. As we got ready to head into 7th grade, I knew that I didn’t fit in. My mother had said “no” to the clothes I wanted to buy. Secretly, I wished that I could be like Junie and Carolyn - as we headed for school that first day. But again, they were together - in the same class and looking so “cool” - and I was alone . . .

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God,
(Romans 12: 18 & 19)

We were never friends again. As we got older and headed into high school, they became my “enemy”! Walking behind me, they would call me names - making fun of what I wore or how I looked. I worked hard not to let them see my tears, as they made sure that I felt their jabs. But as soon as I was home, the tears would come - and I would wonder why I was so different - and so hated . . .

“Pray then this way: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, . . .
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . . .”
(Mathew 6: 9, 10, & 12)

As we also have forgiven our debtors . . . In some churches the word “debtor” is replaced with “trespasser”. It is someone who we need to forgive - someone who has taken something from us - someone who has hurt us.

For years, I hated Carolyn and Junie! They had made me feel so awful - like I was worthless. I felt rejected and like there was something wrong with me. That feeling stayed with me through high school. It is a feeling I struggle with - to this day . . .

It was quite a few years after high school, when I met up with Carolyn again. She had moved into a new house only blocks from where I was living. I would walk by her house as I went to visit my friend, who lived right around the corner from her. Pushing Mike in the carriage, I would sometimes see her outside working in the yard. Then one day, her husband stopped me - waving hello and asking how I was. I told him “fine” and started to head on my way. But he stopped me again, wanting me to see his new little daughter - the baby girl that Carolyn had just given birth to.

“For if you forgive men for their transgressions; your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mathew 6: 14)

I didn’t want to go into that house - but I went anyways. She was there, looking so tired and disheveled. She showed me her new little girl, asking questions about my son - and wondered about being a new mom. She hadn’t slept in days, and she didn’t know what to do, as the baby cried all the time. We talked a little more, and then I left. As I did, I wondered about this girl who had hurt me so badly - years ago . . .

“Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
(Mathew 7: 1 & 2)

Throughout my life, I have tried hard to figure out just “who” I am - and where I fit in. Just like everyone else does - sometimes I fit - and sometimes I don’t. What my new friend knew about me was that I am a Christian minister. And I am. My faith and trust in the Lord is a huge part of my life. But she didn’t know about my personal life - about the hurts and troubles I have been through - or about the people that I love and the friendships that I have made. Those are also part of “who” I am now.

I knew that my new friend had a son and worked in the area. But I didn’t know anything else about her. As we talked I learned about her hurts - and about the love that she shared with another. When we finished our conversation, I still liked her - I liked “who” I was getting to know. But I also understood her hesitation, I knew that other Christians weren’t so accepting of people like my new friend. She had been hurt by her church, by those who were supposed to love her, and so she had turned away . . .

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
(Romans 14: 4)

Quite a number of years ago, a minister - who was also a close friend - told us about a dream or vision that she had seen. She would fall asleep each night watching Christian television. On this particular morning, as she was waking up, she looked over at the television screen. On it she saw a young woman preaching to a large group of people. As she continued to watch, she realized that the woman wasn’t young at all. She was quite a bit older - and had been a preacher for many years. When my friend fully woke up, she wondered why she had seen her so young. Then, a few days later, it happened again. On this morning, as she was waking up, she saw a young boy on the television screen. As she continued to wake up - she again realized that he was a much older man preaching. And again she wondered about what she had seen. It happened one more time - and this time she woke up to see a young woman’s face on the screen. As she became more awake, she realized that it was a man on the television screen. This time, in wonderment, she asked the Lord about what she had seen.

Three times, the Lord had allowed her to see different preachers - as He saw them. Each was different than “who” they were on the television. It made her realize that God sees each of us very differently, than we see ourselves.

“Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature . . . For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16: 7)

I have been rejected at times throughout my life - and I will be at times - again. We don’t all “fit” with everyone. There are friends and loved ones - who I care about deeply. And yet I don’t always agree with everything that they choose. That has to be alright, as they don’t always agree with me. I love them anyways - and they love me.

But there will always be those who “judge” - - - believing that everyone should “be” just like them. I have tried to “fit in” - - - and have failed so many times throughout my life! So now, I am trying to “be” only me. I have loved and I have been hurt - I have hurt others and made mistakes - and all of that has gone into who I am now. But the one thing that I know to be true - is that The Lord loves me anyways! He knows “who” I am - and still He wanted me.

It is the same for you! He loves all that makes you - - - the person that you are today! He knows your heart - and sees where you have been hurt. He knows how to bring Life and Love into your very soul. Will you risk asking Him? When others were “judging” - - - He was waiting - - - just for you . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are mine!” “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”
“For I am the Lord your God, . . .”
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1b - 4)

God bless you in this coming week ahead!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

2 Comments:

Blogger David said...

One of the best weekly words you have written. I am so glad I got to read it first. :) I love it.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks David! You are the one who has been one of my biggest supporters. I don't know if I would be writing if it hadn't been for you. Thank you.

11:23 AM  

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