Freedom can mean different things to people. It all depends on your perspective.
In this country we have freedom of speech. We have the right to speak our mind without fear of persecution. In many countries this freedom is denied.
To those imprisoned, freedom means not being locked up. The wrongs committed have been pardoned. The slate has been wiped clean and they can start anew.
I have met numerous people who are locked up in self imposed prisons. They look at mistakes they’ve made in the past and decide they can’t risk loving, believing in themselves or having dreams for the future. Due to this they live in despair, loneliness and isolation. It is ironic to think they hold the key to unlock this prison but fail to recognize it.
A mistake doesn’t have to mean a life-sentence. I read a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” The freedom to make and learn from mistakes can liberate us to move forward in life.
Jesus died in order that our sins may be forgiven. He wiped the slate clean for us. If I believe my mistakes or sins are unpardonable, then his sacrifice is meaningless. When I truly believe in Jesus I am set free and will embrace the life he’s given me – mistakes and all.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (.Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT)
Did you know that new vehicles no longer come equipped with a CD player? My husband found this out when renting a vehicle for a business trip. He’d taken some CD’s along to listen to when the radio reception was poor.
His disappointment was short-lived when he discovered the satellite radio. There were stations for every genre of music. What he enjoyed most were the stations dedicated to each decade.
As he listened to songs from the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s memories flooded his mind. Music is so much a part of our lives that favourite songs from each decade took him back to various moments in time.
Later he told me the good memories far outweighed the bad. We talked about our tendency to look back and dwell on things we wished we’d done differently. Those are minor compared to the positives we’ve experienced.
When going through trials we feel that they are insurmountable. When I look back on them I see the lessons learned and how far I’ve come. I heard a quote that said “We change for two reasons; either we learn enough that we want to or we hurt enough that we have to.” Either way, the experiences of the past are what has shaped us into who we are today. I’m happy to glance into the past and reminisce but have no desire to dwell there. I know my future lies before and not behind me.
It’s necessary to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and allow him to lead me into the bright future he has planned for me.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)
I’ve heard it said that expectations are premeditated resentments. Although the statement rang true, a recent experience took the meaning to a whole new level.
A situation I was in fell far short of my expectations. Going into it, I wasn’t consciously aware of the expectations I held. That’s how sneaky they can be!
Not only did I come away upset, there was also resentment towards the person that I felt was responsible for my disappointment. I’m ashamed to say that it took me several days of nursing my wounded feelings before I fully realized my part in this.
It’s impossible for another person to know my expectations. How can they when I am not fully aware of them? Even if I am able to vocalize what I expect, I’m sure there is more that I just assume. Variables and the unexpected come into play, throwing off even the best laid plans. The only thing I can be certain of is my inability to control the final outcome.
My life works much better when I put my complete faith and trust in Jesus. I have found that the fewer expectations I have, the more he is able to work. In essence I believe this is because I stop resisting the changes to my plans.
The only expectation that works for me is to know Jesus is able to handle anything that comes my way and to use it for his greater purpose.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ( Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Have you ever had low expectations for something but gone ahead with it anyway? That’s how I felt when I purchased a Christmas cactus in late May. It was blooming at the time and I was happy to pay the small asking price.
Prior experience with these plants had not been good. Previous ones had either never blossomed or had done so once and not again. Even though my hopes weren’t high, we continued to care for this plant after the flowers were finished.
Not long ago I noticed buds forming on a few of the leaves. Soon I was rewarded with one flower and the promise of more to follow. This plant that had appeared dormant for many months was showing its beauty once again.
I smiled as I gazed at the showy magenta flower and realized that I had just been presented with a good analogy for life.
After a period of productivity I have often fallen into what appears to be a dormant stage. No matter how much I struggled, it seemed that my life had been put on hold. I wondered what I was doing wrong.
What I need to remember is that God is always working in me. The periods that seem like inactivity are his way of caring for me as he prepares me for the next phase of my life. These periods of rest should be appreciated. There is more going on beneath the surface than I realize. No matter what the season, when God is working in my life, the results will be worth the wait.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
Sometimes it takes an unusual situation to show me that I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. A recent experience pointed this out.
I had arrived at work one morning to find it unusually cold inside. I put the heat on and waited. Hours later it was only a degree or two warmer.
I called my employer to let her know of the problem. She gave me suggestions on dealing with our sometimes finicky heating system.
Nothing seemed to make a difference. Periodically through the day I tried again and was always frustrated at the lack of heat.
The next day I received a message from my employer saying that the reason the heat didn’t work was because the switch on the thermostat had been turned to “off”. It seems that the problem was with the operator and not the equipment.
Wanting to create value in this situation, I looked for the lesson. It wasn’t as difficult to find as the off switch had been!
There have been times when the discomfort I was experiencing was something I had control over. When my focus was solely on the problem that was all I could see. It was the solution I needed to focus on.
Often I forget where my solution lies. My knowledge and resources are limited. It’s God that sees the whole picture and is able to direct me. He cares about every aspect of my life. I need to continually focus on him and trust that he will provide what I need.
Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help. (Psalm 9:10 GWT)
My friend Teresa shared with me about a walk she took on an overcast day recently. She stopped to rest at a nearby lake and reflected on the quietness and beauty that surrounded her. That is when she took the picture that accompanies this post.
Moments later a pelican flew in and landed on the lake. Teresa watched in awe as this large bird landed so smoothly there wasn’t even a splash.
The pelican swam towards her and she noticed that it was leaving quite a wake behind. A thought occurred. If this pelican could leave such a wake, she wondered what kind of a wake her life was leaving.
Each of us drops many pebbles into the water of life. We may never know what we have done to make a difference in someone else’s life. Who we are and what we do has a greater impact than we are aware of.
Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This is the kind of life that pleases God and will leave a wake that is far reaching.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
I was alone at our trailer and decided to start the day with a nice, hot shower. The only other time I had used this shower was last season, but how difficult could it be to operate?
When I turned on the tap I got a blast of water through the open shower door! Quickly I adjusted the shower head, climbed in and closed the door.
My next challenge was adjusting the water temperature. This was not an easy task as the water was either hot or cold. How could I find a happy medium?
The most difficult part was still to come. I couldn’t seem to get the water turned off! I know it sounds like a simple thing, but that was not the case! After much trial and error I discovered that the taps did not move in the same direction. One turned left to go off and the other turned right.
These problems could have all been avoided if I’d only paid attention to the position of the shower head and the taps before I started.
At the risk of sound like a slow learner, lack of attention has been the cause of many difficulties in my life. I tend to race forward into a situation without taking time to gather the necessary information. That being said, I could spend all of my time gathering information and never actually DO anything.
The best way that I’ve found to make important decisions is to take them to the one who sees everything. Jesus is able to take anything and use it for my good. I can save both of us a lot of unnecessary detours by paying attention.
There are three simple steps I need to do. The first is to pray for guidance. Next I need to take the time to watch and listen for the response. Thirdly, I need to step out in faith. Jesus can then use me to make a difference in the world.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
On a beautiful sunny day I set my inner child free and went outside to play with bubbles. I ran barefoot through the grass and moved the bubble wand in time with the music I could hear coming from the house.
There was nothing on my mind other than watching these thin films of iridescence float on the breeze.
When I thought about it later I realized that even this simple activity had lessons to teach me.
The first lesson was that it lightens my spirit when I take time to play. Nothing else mattered in those moments. I was filled with joy just to be alive.
Second was the beauty I saw. The shimmer of the bubbles also reflected what was around them. The blue sky, fluffy clouds and tall trees were seen in a new way as I gazed at them through the shimmering soapy film. I had a new appreciation for things I had taken for granted only moments before.
Lesson three was the many sizes and shapes of the bubbles. Some were small and round while others were large and almost oblong. A few seemed unbalanced and wobbled as they floated along. All were beautiful. It is the same with people.
This leads me right to lesson four. The shape of the bubbles changed as they adapted to the conditions around them. They had the flexibility to move with the breeze, changing direction and modify their shape as necessary. This flexibility is something I need to practice more in my life.
Lesson five was that although a bubble is only with us a short time, it still brings joy and laughter. Each one was a reminder to live life to the fullest and impact those I come in contact with in a positive way. The Lord has given me this day and I will rejoice and be glad.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” (Psalm 70:4 NIV)
I opened a small box and admired the lovely brooch inside. Many eyes were on me as I was asked if I knew why this design was chosen for me.
Our family has a Scottish heritage and the gift had come from Scotland but I figured there was more to it than that. Focusing on the design in the stone I struggled to see what images were there. My family laughed as I came up with some interesting interpretations.
After a few minutes my son-in-law took pity on me and asked how many thistles surrounded the stone. That was the clue I needed. There were eight, one for each of my grandchildren.
The stone itself was a Heathergem, made from the stems of the heather plant. Basically, the heather is picked, dried, died and then mixed together and compressed. Eighty tons of pressure is required to press the block of stems together. It was incredible to think this lovely stone was once the stems of a plant.
The first lesson I learned from this gift was that sometimes I look so hard to find a complicated solution that I overlook the answer that is right in front of me.
Lesson two was that pressure is not always a negative thing. It is not pleasant to go through times of intense pressure but this stone was evidence that the results can produce something of strength and beauty that would not otherwise be possible.
I need to remember that God can take any situation and produce something good from it. I only need to give it to him and allow him to do his work.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Someone who had been visiting Europe told a story about the wine in a particular country. It seems that they made very good white wine but the red wine was terrible. The red grapes that could be grown there were not suitable for wine making.
In order to get good grapes for the white wine, both red and green grapes had to be planted. They were in alternating rows; one row of red, the next of green and so on. The red grapes were discarded afterwards, but something about having them grow next to the green grapes made the green ones better.
It was interesting to think of half of the crop being unusable. It was only planted to make the other half better.
My husband and I talked about this and about how it could also relate to our lives. Sometimes our sole purpose is to assist someone else in achieving their potential. That means I can still add value even though I didn’t think I was doing anything outstanding on my own.
To me, the lesson of this story is that it’s not all about me. Sometimes I need to put myself aside and focus on helping others become the best that they can be.
This must be what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I need to adhere to this and trust that when the time is right he will send someone to come alongside me to assist me in reaching my full potential.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 NLT