Small red, orange and yellow flags are scattered in front yards all along my street. They mark service lines for gas, electricity, cable and internet.
Fibre optic internet is being installed in our neighbourhood, and the markers are necessary to identify the various lines so none are compromised when the new cable is run from the street to the homes.
Someone came to my door and asked me to sign an agreement allowing the service line to be run to our house. I asked a few questions and was given some interesting information.
During the construction of new homes, service providers bury the lines about four feet deep. Over time frost heaves and other conditions move them upwards. Since they are hidden from view no one knows exactly how close to the surface they have become. That is why everything is marked and checked before any further work can be done.
The reason this conversation stuck in my mind had nothing to do with what was happening on our street. Instead, it had everything to do with unpleasant things from my past I attempt to bury and forget.
I thought the pain of these hurts was pushed so far down in my subconscious I’d never have to deal with it again. Sooner or later these issues make their way to the surface.
I attempt to push them back underground again knowing this is only a short term remedy. The markers are there, reminding me of what is just below the surface.
Experience has taught me that feelings buried alive never die. Only when I acknowledge the hurts and truly forgive myself or others, will I be set free.
Instead of markers to be concerned about, I plant the seeds of a bright future and watch expectantly as they bloom.
The Walls Came Down
We first saw the wall about ten years ago. It stood strong and tall, protecting the property behind it from the ravages of wind and sea.
In the last few years the wall started to lean but still kept the property safe.
Today, as we walked past, the wall was crumbled and broken. Part of it lay down on the sand and the elements were now free to ravage the property. Since we hadn’t been in the area for a year, we had no idea when the wall fell. The destruction behind it was clearly evident.
All it took was the foundation to be undermined. The sand slowly eroded and water made its way through small crevices. This would have started where no eyes could see. Eventually the damage was severe enough to cause the wall to crumble and fall.
I wondered if something could have been done prevent this. Perhaps it could have been reinforced when it first started leaning.
This situation was a good analogy of the effects of sin in our lives. I don’t see how a little white lie can cause harm. Soon more lies and deception follow.
I have opened the way for sin to undermine the foundation in my life. What seemed so innocent has taken on a life of its own. Left unchecked, it has the power to destroy me as it slowly erodes my moral character. One day the façade can no longer be maintained and crumbles, leaving the damage exposed for all to see.
There is a better way. Despite my best intentions, I will never lead a sin-free life. Thankfully, I have a personal relationship with the one who can wash away my sin and repair the damage caused.
Jesus offers forgiveness to all who come to Him in sincere repentance. I know by coming to Him on a regular basis, my foundation will remain strong and my life will not fall in shambles.
The Root of the Problem
A heavy rain had fallen overnight. We woke up to the promise of a brighter day and headed outside to breathe in the fresh, clean air that follows a summer rain.
While the ground was still damp, my husband started pulling weeds that had sprung up in our flower beds. I tackled the ones growing between the paving stones. It didn’t take long to appreciate the difference damp soil makes.
When I gently tugged, the entire root of the weed emerged from the ground. I was happy to know my efforts were eliminating the problem and not just a temporary solution.
Previous weeding experience hadn’t gone as well. When the ground was dry, often only the portion above ground broke off. Things would look better for a short time until the root produced new growth and the weed once again became visible. Hard, unyielding soil gives those kinds of results.
The analogy was not lost on me. When my attitude is hard and unyielding, the root of bitterness and discontent grows. I may be able to hide it for a short time, but it keeps reappearing.
Jesus is the master gardener who is able to get to the root of the problem. His tender loving care softens my heart so the once flourishing roots of my unhealthy behaviour can be eliminated.
When I submit fully to Jesus, there is no risk of one of these roots being left behind. He is the one who can probe to the depths of my heart, remove my sins, and give me a clean start.
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4: 7-8 NLT)
Five minutes into the exercise class our instructor said, “We need to warm up your hearts.”
I turned to my friend and told her I didn’t think I was cold-hearted to start with.
We laughed but I knew there have been circumstances in my life when my heart definitely needed warming.
It wasn’t cold to everyone, just those who had hurt me by what they had said or done – or maybe it was something not said or done.
I hung onto bitterness and anger like it was a prize. I knew I had every right to be upset and was exercising that right to the fullest.
It didn’t matter if the offending party was even aware of the issue. I had been wronged and a sincere apology had not been offered. Forgiveness was out of the question.
I thought forgiveness meant I was saying the offence was acceptable. It took me many years to understand the one suffering from my unforgiveness was me. I heard someone say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Only then did I see how cold and hard my heart had become.
Since then I have been learning to keep short accounts. Some transgressions require a continuous effort to forgive. It is not a one-time thing but something to be repeated over and over until I can look at the situation and not have any negative emotion.
Forgiving others allows me to let go of the negative thoughts I’ve been holding onto. This is what sets me free from the past so I can fully embrace the life before me. Only then will my cold heart become warm and loving again.
How to Get Rid of Your Mistakes
For many, the handwritten note or letter is a thing of the past. Why would we take the time to sit down with pen and paper when it’s much quicker to log onto the computer?
However, I enjoy giving handwritten notes of encouragement and support. The feedback I receive tells me the personal touch is appreciated.
Mistakes made with ink on paper are not easily erased and corrections made on the page can look messy. In these cases, I turn to a solution made popular in the last century!
It is called whiteout. The fluid comes in a small bottle with a brush and all I have to do is cover over the error with the liquid and wait for a few seconds for it to dry. Then I can carry on as if the mistake never happened.
That might be the idea but often I either apply either too little, leaving the mistake to show through, or too much, leaving a bumpy surface that’s difficult to write on. This magic eraser also comes in a tape form which I have never been able to master. The result is my mistakes don’t always disappear as I’d like them to.
I know of something that completely blots out the big mistakes in my life. It leaves me fresh and clean and able to start over again. What is this magic formula? It is called forgiveness of my sins. I don’t have to shop for this in the store or wonder how to apply it properly. All I need is to sincerely come to God in prayer, confess my sins, and repent. God promises to forgive and give me a fresh start. I can think of no better way to get rid of my mistakes.
God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong, (1 John 1:9 GWT)
What Size is Your Baggage?
My husband and I were at the airport waiting for a connecting flight when we saw the sign. It asked about the size of our baggage and the measurements included were to help us know if what we carried was too big.
The double meaning was not lost on us. Are we carrying around baggage the size of a small personal item? Maybe it’s larger, like a carry-on we need to stow overhead. Or, in some cases, it might have to be checked with the oversized pieces.
There was a time when the emotional baggage I carried was too large to be contained in the dimensions specified on this sign. It seems ironic to have carried around something too big to fit in a carry-on bag.
Past hurts, regrets, resentments and more were weighing me down. I was dragging them around, letting the weight of my past impact my day-to-day life. The load was becoming too much to carry and I needed to find a way to permanently check at least part of it.
Forgiveness was the key to lightening my load. Not only did I need to extend this to others, I also had to forgive me. My past mistakes didn’t need to still be carried. I could learn from them and let them go. This didn’t happen overnight, but bit by bit, I was able to permanently check the majority of this baggage.
I’m sure I’ll accumulate more as I travel life’s journey. But, now that I know what to do with this excess weight, I’m travelling a lot lighter.
During our recent vacation, I was having problems with my hair. I’d wash it and hours later it would feel dirty again.
After trying a few brands of shampoo I came to the conclusion the problem was with the water in the shower. Although it was frustrating, I didn’t know what else to do so had to accept it.
Each day we would go for a long walk along the beach. During the last few days of vacation, the tide was very high, leaving not enough sand to walk on. We didn’t want to forgo our walk so moved inland.
The next day I was pleasantly surprised with my hair. It still felt clean. It took another day of walking inland before I understood what the problem had been and felt foolish to not have recognized it sooner.
Upon return from our beach walks my sunglasses would be covered with a film of sea spray that clouded my vision. I hadn’t thought about that same spray also coating my hair!
The answer was obvious the whole time. Instead of seeing what was right in front of me I went searching for something more complicated. I don’t know about you, but this seems to be a pattern in my life.
Little white lies, judgments and selfishness slowly build up until, like the effects of the sea spray, my vision and my life become clouded. I no longer feel clean and tend to search for outside reasons for my gloom.
The problem, however, isn’t with anyone or anything else. It is my doing and only by taking responsibility can I remove the film that clouds my life. When I go to Jesus and sincerely ask forgiveness, he is willing and able to make my life bright and clean once again.
Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:5 NLT)
“Do I have a purple moustache?” I asked my husband. “Not that I can see,” was his reply.
I had used fresh blueberries in my morning smoothie and wondered if any evidence remained on my face. Although the outside of the berries are blue, the stain they make is always purple!
Before I left the house for the day I stopped for a quick look in the mirror. That’s when I saw the tell-tale purple stains I’d been concerned about. My husband didn’t intentionally trick me into going out with a purple moustache. He honestly didn’t notice. I realized this was another sign that he often sees the best in me and either doesn’t notice or overlooks my imperfections.
This is something I know Jesus does for me every day. I make many mistakes and he not only forgives them but also eliminates them so they are no longer seen or remembered. The bible tells me that he removes my sins as far is the east is from the west.
It is incredible to know I’m not judged by my appearance or misdeeds. Jesus looks past my faults. He knows my heart and sees what I can become. When I maintain a close relationship with him, I am seen through the eyes of his unfailing love.
As far as the east is from the west— that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself. (Psalm 103:12 GWT)
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.( Psalm 86:5 NLT)
Do You Have Freedom?
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)