Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lord Willing

© 2013, Chantelle Henderson

© 2013, Chantelle Henderson

"You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14-15. Life is too short. The older I get, the more people are taken away unexpectedly.....Two precious brothers in the Lord, both in their 50's, I know and have fellowshiped with and broken bread with and shared the Word Of God with and prayed with, lost their lives to a heart attack. There is absolutely nothing that puts things in perspective faster than realizing that without notice people can be ripped out of our lives, without our permission or approval.

Today, I've asked myself the Who? What? When? Where? And How? of life. Actually, it’s not just been today but many days lately. I didn't hear a loud booming voice coming down from the heaven. I didn't witness the miracle of the dead coming back to life. But this I do know.

Who? GOD.


When? NOW

Where? WHEREVER HE SENDS ME....not where I want to go or where I think I should be or how I think it should be done. But the EXACT place and path He ordained for my life and established before I ever took my first breath.

Just one day before our friend Rob passed away of a heart attack I was speaking to one of my inner circle peeps in Georgia and explaining several things that are going on in my life.  I didn't beat around the bush. I said it. “I’m not doing this or that because right now man’s approval is overriding my obedience to God and His approval. How did I allow it to get to this point, that same mountain, that same place I've traveled seemingly a million and one times in my life? In fact, I've traveled it in excess to the point that you would think I have it together by now and would run in the opposite direction because I know better and as Maya Angelou said, "When you know better, you do better."  But I don’t. I don’t do better! Why do I find myself in this place where I am trying to please and gain the approval of man instead of the ONLY ONE that matters?  An Audience Of One, my Heavenly Father?

My precious friend of nearly 20 years listened as I thought out loud.

We prayed.

She counseled.

We cried.

We laughed.

We knew.

After 20 years of relationship with someone, it's like the baby and their blanket that they carry around and the messier it gets, the more they fall in love with it.  Two seasoned friendships are in Georgia and one, my sister, is on the other side of Florida.  Without fail they can finish my sentences, know when to remain silent and when to have a "Comin' to Jesus" meeting with me.  They are not yes people.  They are God's best for me people.  These are the ones that have seen me have money and go broke.  They've seen me drunk and seen me sober.  They were there before I even knew who Ryan Henderson was.  These are the friendships and sisterhoods I call my Velveteen Girls.  One of my all-time favorite quotes from the book The Velveteen Rabbit is, "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." ~ We velveteen rabbit people get it.  To my God, I was never seen as ugly because they understood and continue to understand.  Let me interject that the relationships are not one sided.  These confidants are my iron sharpening iron princess warriors.  They have reminded me time and time again that I am the “tell it like it is” friend.  I will call them out on the carpet.  They will also tell you I'm a ride or die girl.  I got your back....not to be mistaken for the stabbing kind of "I got your back."....Just clarifying.  Just as they have with me, I have seen them at their best and at their absolute worse.  But that’s what makes the relationships so treasured, and pure, and true.

Back to the conversation with this confidant, my walk-on-water partner.  We knew.  We both knew why I was on this familiar journey’s path AGAIN.  It was simple.  It’s not complicated.  I was being disobedient. 

We hung up and I grabbed my journal and my Bible because I did not want to forget the peace and rest in the surrender I’d gained just by bearing my burden with a sister in Christ.  I would like to take a few sentences and tell you the importance of bearing your burden with a brother or sister in Christ.  There is a healing that takes place.  There’s something so special about safe people.  You know they aren't going to judge you.  They aren't going to speak out of turn or meet your breaking heart with a “suck it up and move on” mentality.  When we bear one another’s burdens we are also fulfilling the law of Christ.  The is freedom when you don't have to carry the load alone.  I love The Message Bible in Galatians 6:1-3.  "Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived."  It doesn't get as clear as that.  The Amplified Bible refers to burdens as "troublesome moral faults".   You see, it doesn't have to be some "major" sin (as if there's even such a thing!  That's another blog).  My sin in that moment was delayed obedience which equals disobedience.  As I wrote I asked for THE COUNSELOR to come and give me wisdom and clarity of direction. I don’t have time to travel those crooked paths when He's promised to make the crooked places straight.  He's not the one that changed the path.  He said to look not to the right or the left (Proverbs 4:27).  He said he would make the crooked places straight (Isaiah 45:2).  

Caring what people think and trying to jump through whatever hoops you have to in order to gain the approval of man is a dangerous road that is hard to come back from.  It's a wide gate.  So many people walk through it because it's easier to go along with what everyone else is doing and meeting the status quo that we forget what it feels like to actually go through the narrow gate.  It's constricted.  It's uncomfortable.  It’s lonely.  There's only room for you and God.  That's why Matthew 7:13 reminds us to, “Enter through the narrow gate.For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it." It doesn't get any clearer than that.  Oh how enticing the wide gate is!  However, if Christ is truly my Lord and Savior and God is precisely who He said He is in His Word then explanations and questions can wait, but not my obedience.  My attempt to justify why I'm not doing what I'm supposed to means I am walking through the wide gate.  I can't even mistake the two anymore.  I've seen, done, and experienced too much to hide behind supposed ignorance.  William Penn said, "Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it."  If you are going to walk with God you will have your fair share of harsh judgment, criticism, strange looks, and the whispers of the very people you call friend.  BUT IT’S WORTH IT!  Seeing these two precious brothers cross over into their eternal home just serves as a reminder that James 4:14 gives us the bottom line.  You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].” (Amplified)

"I don’t want to die tomorrow and know that I am taking everything the Father equipped me with on this side of eternity, every gift and talent, every story and song, and it be buried along with me because I was trying to win the approval of man. When I die, I don’t want to be a vessel that is full of what if’s and if only’s. I want Papa to look at me square in the eyes and say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

My prayer:

God, I pray in Jesus’ Name that you remove the insurmountable mountain of doubt and desire to please man more than you. Crush it into pieces,  Obliterate it. Remove ANY AND EVERY hindrance that is standing in between me and you. Show me how to speak to the mountain through your word and by Your Spirit. 

I will go wherever You send me.

I will serve wherever you tell me to.

I will try my best to get it right, knowing however, that if I do stumble and fall you will reach out your hand of grace, mercy, and compassion and draw me back to You.

Thank you for another day, today, to get it right and Lord willing, tomorrow. But if You should come for me this day, may it all be well with my soul as well as the ones of those around me, whether friend or foe, acquaintance or inner circle.  My heart cries out the scripture Psalm 119:37 “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” 

I’m turning my eyes toward Heaven and singing,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

in the light of His glory and grace.”

~Helen Lemmel


Lastly, this is a great question to ask myself on a regular basis. It’s so easy to get off track whether intentionally or unknowingly. The important thing that is going to count for eternity is that we repair whatever or/and whoever we give unhealthy space to in our lives. That could very well mean, and often does, having to let some habits, influences, and yes, even people go in order to move ahead with Him.  He should be our only Aim. Our only Idol and One Chief Treasure. Galatians 1:10 ”…Am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.”  Lord, may it be the latter, knowing that it is an honor and high calling to be a slave of Christ, our Savior.