The Root of the Problem

#inspiration, #Jesus, heart, soften, forgivenessA 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)

Cold Hearted

#inspiration, forgiveness, emotions, heartFive 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

#inspiration, #God, forgiveness, sinsFor 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?

#inspiration, sign, forgiveness, lifeMy 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.

Clouded Vision

#Jesus, #inspiration, forgivenessDuring 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)

Purple Moustache

#Jesus, #inspiration, forgiveness, love“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, Jesus, inspirationFreedom 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)

Easter Snow

Good Friday, ransomed, whiteAccording to the calendar, it was now spring. Thursday night snow had fallen. Not the fine, icy crystals of winter snow, but the fat, wet flakes that fall in spring and accumulate quickly.

Therefore, it was no surprise when I woke up on Good Friday to see our yard covered in a blanket of white.

I thought the symbolism behind this was perfect. Good Friday is the day we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. He shed his blood and gave his life in order that our sins may be forgiven.

In the Bible the Lord says our sins are like scarlet and he will make them white as snow. The blood that Jesus shed so many years ago paid the ransom for my sins to be forgiven.

I stood in church singing the words “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”

On Good Friday I thought of the blood of Jesus and then looked upon the earth that was now white with snow. The result of his ultimate sacrifice had a new visual to remind me of the greatest love ever shown. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve this grace.

I am humbled as I praise him once again and pray that my life will be lived in a way that is honouring to him.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:6-7 NLT)

Do You Have Transmision Problems?

God, prayer, guidance, inspirationOne evening I pulled into our driveway and was surprised when my vehicle would no longer move forward. Before you ask, it wasn’t because I bumped into the building!

Eventually the vehicle did move but there was a resistance that felt like something was holding it back. The brake wasn’t engaged so the problem had to be with the transmission. Once it was serviced, everything was good again.

This made me think of times I’ve been moving full speed ahead in my life and suddenly felt a resistance that stopped me in my tracks. Looking back, I realize this was caused by a different kind of transmission problem. It had nothing to do with a motor, but with a message that was being transmitted to me.

Many times I have set my own course and not stopped to pray about it. God has been patient with me when I made mistakes that wouldn’t have occurred if I had been relying on him. When it feels like something is holding me back, I need to stop and evaluate if this is God’s way of letting me know I’m not heading in the right direction.

He is always willing to forgive my disobedience and set my life back on track. By being tuned into his transmission of love and guidance my journey of life will be much smoother.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! (Psalm 32:1-2 NLT)

Frost Heaves of Life

frost-heaveThere is a creek close to my house with a paved path that runs alongside it. Many people enjoy walking and biking along this path.

This spring when the weather warmed, removing all traces of frost from the ground, a hole appeared in a low-lying area of the pavement. Over a period of several weeks the hole became so large that a portion of the path had to be closed.

My understanding is that the damage was the result of a frost heave. When the ice crystals in the ground melted, the ground became soft.  This undermined the surface, causing collapse.

My life has sometimes suffered this same kind of effect. There have been times when bitterness or hurt feelings have caused my heart to grow cold. This frostiness permeated my life and soon my demeanor was bleak and cold.

The act of forgiveness was able to melt the ice and warm my heart again. What I needed to remember was the damage the frost had done. It had undermined the loving kindness I wanted to exhibit. Repairs to relationships didn’t happen instantly.

Over time, as I let the light of Jesus shine in and through me, his radiance filled in the hollow spaces. What had once been undermined was now restored. The warmth of his love was then able to overflow and spread peace in my life and to those around me.

“‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)