Don’t Be an Island

Posted: September 27, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Relationships/Love
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One perk (of many) with my new smart phone is the awesome Bible app I downloaded. It makes it super easy to read the Bible conveniently and on the go. Generally, when I don’t have a set plan for my Bible reading, I’ll read the Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month. So, I had my phone reading Proverbs 18 out-loud to me, and verse 1 grabbed me: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Hmph, I thought. I’ve never heard this verse, or at least this verse put quite this way. Turns out, I was reading the ESV translation, which I rarely do. I switched to the NIV version, my default, and it had this to say: “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” Is it just me, or do these verses seem to emphasize different things? The second clause agrees, that it goes against sound judgment. But the first part of the ESV states clearly isolation is not good and goes against the desires of God, for man “seeks his own desire” in being a hermit. The NIV uses the word “unfriendly.” Now I’m thinking of a mean and grouchy man when that word is used, perhaps a grouchy man that is selfish, naturally. That makes total sense. But the ESV version really made me reflect. If I isolate myself, I pursue my own selfish desires, and therefore, it is not good, for any emphasis on self detracts from God’s command to love Him and others.

I’ll admit. I espoused George Washington’s international policy of isolationism in my social life, summed up like this: meddling in others’ affairs or making yourself known or making a scene or being assertive was not for me. The books were safe and predictable. And so, I passed through high school with perfect grades, a few close friends, and no social life. And then college happened. SOCIAL LIFE! WOOHOOOO! It was like a drug. Where have you been all my life?! I do believe I went a little over the top my freshman year, always trying to be involved in all the dorm activities, always trying to get “that” boy’s attention (does he like me? do I like him?), finally living the “wild” (in a very clean way) life I never had. It was like I was on fire. I can’t say it was healthy, but, there is a balance. Man, should not isolate himself.

“No man is an island.” How many times have you heard that? Did you know it’s a quote from John Donne’s poem? Here’s the rest of it:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Donne points out that our lives are all intertwined. When one man passes, a part of someone else dies. A life touches another, ignites a soul, makes someone else come alive. It’s powerful.

You know what else is also powerful? The Trinity. God loves relationship, and He Himself is involved in the most loving, giving, and sacrificial relationship of all with the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three in perfect communion. In the beginning, He said, “Let us create…” Who is us? The Trinity. He created man and said it was not good for him to be alone, and once he had a companion and creation was completed after mankind, he said it was VERY good. Not just good.

I realized in this verse, that I am depriving others by isolating myself. Many times I have told myself and others that basically I’m doing myself a favor by not getting close to them. By not opening up my heart and who I really am. But in actuality, this is can be a cover up for my own selfish fears of being hurt. But, I am hurting other people if I do not interact with them. God commands us to love others through actions and words, to grieve with others, to confess our sins, to basically be transparent and forgiving and joyful in others’ successes.

What do I have to give? you may ask. YOURSELF. You’re one of a kind. Why would God make people so different if He didn’t take joy in that? If he didn’t find you and your individual identity important? Share a smile, kinds words, a hug. These are simple gestures that can mean so much. Once I risked deeper friendships, I learned to risk being vulnerable, and in return, people were vulnerable with me. Together, we could encourage one another in Christ. And we then had a deeper friendship. Sometimes you may feel like you’re the only one giving, but don’t grow weary of doing what’s right. God loved to the point of death. You, then, can love others past your comfort zone.

I didn’t understand true friendship til college. My parents loved me and cared and cried with me. But to have true friends is priceless. I remember when I went through a painful break-up I hid myself in my room, very distraught, and would not come out until my roommate came back. I wouldn’t talk to anyone else in the quad area we shared, I only wanted my roomie. When she came to the door, I greeted her like a blubbering leaking faucet as I garbled out the bad news. I went to hug her, then realized, she was crying! I was confused, and asked why she was crying. I don’t remember her exact words, but she let me sit on her lap and bawl my eyes out. I am so blessed to call her my friend. I didn’t need words then, or explanations or analysis of the scenario, just empathy. Her tears and comfort were more than enough.

Now that I’m out of college and married, I’ve grown to realize the great importance of anti-isolationism. My immediate family doesn’t live here. My husband is my family. My friends are my family. I am there for them, so that in turn, they are there for me. I’m always so grateful when a friend is willing to do a favor for me or when a friend truly wants to spend time with me because they honestly miss me. I love when one of my girl pals texts me and says “I miss you!” or “We need to catch up!” I love honest and open heart to heart conversations. By not having them all these years, I didn’t just hurt myself, but I deprived others of the joy and love God could have conveyed through me to them in their time of need.

Remember: Islands may seem lovely, but only if they’re vacation spots like Hawaii. Risk being vulnerable. Risk being yourself.

Learning to love,
Larkin

Falling is not Failing

Posted: September 18, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Godly Manhood, Godly Womanhood, Testimonies
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If my athlete falls, then did he fail?

Some coaches would say yes. It is obvious to them. You failed to do the skill properly. You failed to do exactly as you were told. You failed to exercise control over your muscles. You failed to land.

You failed.

But gymnasts fall down every day. And even the best gymnast has fallen down. In fact, I would venture to say that is the best gymnasts who have fallen the most.

Gymnastics is a sport with inherent risk—every activity involving height, speed, or motion involves risk. So in training, athletes are bound to fall. It is a calculated risk. A manageable risk. But still a risk none the less.

So when I think of falling, I do not think immediately of failure.

Instead I see the process of perfection, the pursuit of excellence. I see athletes building strength, character, and will. I see athletes disciplining their body and commanding their muscles to obedience.

If they fall, they have not failed. They have discovered and succeeded in finding one more way how not to finish that particular trick.

They have displayed courage and aggression towards their challenge.

They have faced risk and confronted fear and stepped one step closer to mastering the skill.

    Application

Likewise, life is a sport with inherent risk. The chances we take can lead to a solid landing, or a fall flat to our faces.

I started a business at nineteen years old. Somehow, I pulled the resources together, found and united a staff, and then opened my doors for business in July of 2013.

It was exciting, it was scary, but in this analogy it was a new “skill” for a relatively inexperienced new “athlete.” Sure I trained for it, I was the head coach and manager of a facility before this. Sure I knew the sport, I was a national level judge and elite level athlete. But none the less, the risk was high that I would fall on this new skill, this new adventure.

I knew the risk going in, and almost decided the risk to be too great. I almost considered myself too inexperienced and too young—the rest of the world certainly did.

But I took the advice I had been giving my athletes for years: face the challenge, display the courage, and confront the fear and some one step closer to success.

Even if my business fails, even if I fall flat on my face, I will consider the experience a success.

Because the risk was losing a company, but the potential return on investment, the potential reward… was changing the lives of children, impacting the lives of those around me, becoming an example to those I lead, and leading those in my witnessing field towards Jesus Christ.

The risk was great. The potential was greater. And I believe eternity to be a different place because of the ministry God has given me in gymnastics.

If one day I fall and my business fails, It will simply mean then end of one ministry and the beginning of another—with the same veracity as the one before it.

Falling is not failing.

    Going Deeper

Therefore, my advice—for what is worth—is to be smart. Don’t take on risk for the sake of risk. Don’t fall for the sake of falling. That, I would consider foolish.

My advice is this:

Reach for the stars. Dream big. And do not let anyone tell you that you are too young, or too inexperienced or too (insert any other excuse here) to change the world around you.

Do not let the risk of falling hold you back. As I said before, I think the best gymnasts are the ones who have fallen the most. They have certainly trained the most, they have certainly worked the most, and they are certainly the ones with the most exposure to, and risk of, falling.

Whatever you are, be the best at it.

If you are going to dream, dream big. If you are going to work, work hard. If you are going to reach, reach for the stars (because even if you fall, you’ll still land in the clouds).

Falling is not failing.
Failing to try—that is failure.

-Nicholas Minney

Simply put, high school can be rough. Not even considering the stress of Calculus, Chemistry, and ten-page essays, there still remains the constant drama of the high school social scene. I’m sure you don’t have to be reminded of the nasty back-stabbing, black-mailing, and straight up cruelty that goes on at school, on the weekends, and even on the internet. As a Christian young man or woman, though, you are called by your Creator and Savior to rise above this insanity. I encourage you, as Paul encouraged the Romans in his letter to them, to “not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Sometimes taking a stand for the Lord and not caving into the world can be tough, especially on a secular campus where you feel you’re the only one in a sea of many. I, too, remember feeling like I was coasting through high school, trying to do my best but never radically going against the flow.

But take heart; if you truly have embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are more than equipped to combat the high school drama scene with His design for real relationships. The foundation for deep, meaningful relationships lies in no other source than Jesus Himself. Before you can nurture solid friendships, your friendship (and intimacy) with the Father must come first. He should be your everything, and as you seek Him, you will become more like Him. Take a look at Galatians 5: 19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, orgies, and the like…” Sounds a lot like high school, doesn’t it? But keep reading through verse 26: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentles and self-control… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.” By seeking after your Lord daily, and becoming closer with Him, you will develop these qualities and no longer be needy and selfish. And guess what? It’s when you’re at this point, that you are ready and equipped to be a real friend and experience radical relationships, God’s way.

So now that we’ve reviewed the worldly way of friendships, let’s take a look at what God’s Word has to say about true friendship. The writer of Ecclesiastes paints a picture of what friendship looks like: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who has no one to help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) God clearly has made relationships, and wants friendships to be a mutual source of encouragement. You should give as much or more than you take, in order to maintain and show God’s love in your friendships.

Sometimes, though, developing friendships can be difficult. How do you get started? Well, as a wise man once said, “You have to be a friend to have friends.” Paul lays out a beautiful guideline of what self-sacrificial love and friendship should look like for believers: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Now, this is much easier said than done, and seems simpler on paper. What this passage means is that when your friend works hard and aces that test, you rejoice with her instead of resorting to self-pity and envy, and when she hurts your feelings and genuinely asks for forgiveness, you give it to her instead of holding it against her.

Truly, relationships in the body of Christ can be filled with Christian love and unity when Jesus is the center. The psalmist in Psalms 133:1 declares, “How beautiful and pleasing it is when brothers live together in unity!” Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father about unity among believers: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23) It’s simply beautiful how this love triangle works, with Jesus, the Father, and believers. Jesus is one with the Father, and through His sacrifice has restored us to the Father, so that we too may be one with Him and have unity among fellow Christians. And, we have the His strength and pure love to share with non-believers. So next time you are overwhelmed with the chaos of relationships, remember that His love empowers you to have real, deeper relationships, the kind He designed His children to enjoy.

-Larkin

The Silent Masquerade: Unmasking Depression

Posted: August 19, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Depression, Suicide
Tags: , ,

Depression. It’s a word hardly spoken but a condition deeply felt by many. According to dosomething.org, about 20 million people in the U.S. deal with depression every year, and 25% of young adults will have an episode of depression before age 24. If depression is so common, why don’t we talk about it more? Why do we act as if those who struggle with it are flawed, or carry a contagious virus?

The answer is simple: the topic makes us uncomfortable.

If we haven’t dealt with it, we have no idea how to relate to those who suffer, and even if we have experienced it, we’re reluctant to be transparent with others who could use our words of comfort. We’re afraid. We’re afraid of being uncomfortable and we’re afraid of how others may perceive us when they find out we have struggled with depression, or, even worse, are currently struggling with depression behind a smiling face. We fear rejection, and so the masquerade and silence continue.
The silence must end.

Christians are not spared, nor are they any less “Christian” for having dealt with depression (take David’s pleading Psalms and the life of Job for example). If anything, I would argue that dark times in my life have made me more loving and understanding towards others while deepening my relationship with God. Often pain is required to drive us back to the foot of the cross and remind us that our Savior is all we have and all we need.

I remember when one of my relatives went through a tough time in her life and had to take psychiatric medication. It weirded me out. Would the medication make her act differently? Would she be herself? I’m happy to say, that her trials made her a better person. She grew in God and developed healthy self-esteem and good habits, both spiritual and physical. My apprehension grew into admiration. I admired her for the strong woman she became through her trials.

There’s so much I could say about depression. I could tell you that that you can be biologically inclined towards depression (like a hereditary disorder). I could tell you that not taking care of yourself, such as not getting enough sleep and not eating well, can add to the possibility of depression. I could tell you that not controlling your emotions and letting them control you will lead to dark times. I could even say that God is not punishing you when you’re depressed and He hurts to see you hurt when you’re struggling to make meaning out of sadness.

But none of this helps when depression has taken control of your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit, because depression has a nasty habit of hijacking your life. When the body fights physical pain, the mind is free and able to think above the circumstances. But when the mind is ill, when serotonin levels in the brain dip below normal, the mind flounders like a fish on land. The mind is clouded, and the one organ that controls all other organs and responses (the brain), is spinning out of control.

If you’re facing depression, you have to be open to getting help. You may need to take medication, go to counseling, and through iron will, over-ride your hijacked mind. As soon as you can, you need to start doing the right things, even if you don’t feel like it. You need to exercise, eat healthy foods, make sleep a priority, and embrace relationships and transparency with those you trust. And you need to go to God daily, and moment by moment. You need to embrace His grace, and you need to be gracious and patient with yourself. Be patient with the process. Believe that things will get better, because they will with time. Believe too that you matter and God cares about you immeasurably.

What if you’re not facing depression, but know someone who is? Be patient with them. Pray for them. Let them know you’re always there for them if they need to talk, or just need someone to hang out with, but don’t pressure them. Keep tabs on them, and encourage them to get psychiatric help if necessary. The brain, like any other organ of the body, can get tired and overwhelmed and sometimes needs a little extra tender loving care.
I pray that you seek God’s face wherever you may be right now: in a valley, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between. I also pray that if you’re in the midst of a “mountain-top” experience now, that you not forget those in the valleys. Take time to stop and help your brothers and sisters in Christ as we are all loved by the same Father.

May God’s peace and love calm your hearts and minds,
Larkin

PS: I like to repeat this verse to myself when I start to feel worried and stressed, to keep myself focused on who I am in Christ: “For God has not given us a spirit of Fear, but of Power, and of Love, and of a Sound Mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, my emphasis added)

The Unforgivable Sin?

Posted: August 19, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Depression, Forgiveness, Suicide

Recently, two similar events have been brought to the forefront of attention. One was the suicide of Braxton Caner, the son of well known Evangelical Preacher Ergun Caner, and the other was the even more recent suicide of comedian Robin Williams. Although one was more highly publicized than the other, neither one was more tragic than the other. Both Caner and Williams had reasons for taking their own lives, perhaps we will never know for sure why they both made that decision, but regardless of the decision their loss has been felt strongly in both cases. It is when we face times like this that many questions arise, especially amongst Christians. 127135a

Growing up as a pastor’s son, I have seen the tragedy that suicide is. I have personally known two fathers whose sons have taken their own lives. Both of them asked the same question, “Was my son forgiven for his action and is he in heaven, or is suicide unforgivable?” It is a tough question to answer, but I am positive that these two recent suicides have no doubt brought that question to the forefront of many a Christian’s mind. I would briefly like to address this question and look at what Scripture has to say.

First and foremost, I must acknowledge that yes, suicide is a sin. The Ten Commandments clearly state “you shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) Another possible translation from the original Hebrew word used in this passage is to kill. Hank Hanegraaff points out,

“Suicide is the murder of oneself. As such it is a direct violation of the sixth commandment. . . Indeed suicide is a direct attack on the sovereignty of the very One who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13).”(Hanegraaff, 399)

Suicide is a sin as killing another human being is a sin, just as stealing is a sin, or not obeying your parents is a sin.

As human beings, we feel the need to rank or categorize certain sins as more grievous than other sins. The truth is that no sin is greater than any other sin. Romans says, “The wages of sin is death.”(6:23)  Paul in Romans does not designate any one sin over the other as being more deserving of death; he simply says sin is deserving of death. Those who have studied the Bible know, however, in Romans 3 Paul states “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” (3:23) This simply means that those who have accepted the gift that comes through Christ’s death and resurrection will spend eternity in Heaven and not experience death. This does not mean that we will not experience the death of our bodies, but rather we will not experience death in Hell.

Now that I have established that suicide is a sin like all other sins, equally deserving the punishment of death as other sins, and that if one has accepted the gift that Christ gives, then eternal punishment in Hell can be avoided, then let us address the issue at hand.

One of the fathers I knew who had a son commit suicide was told by “Christians” that his son automatically went to Hell because suicide was the unforgivable sin. First of all, what a horrible thing to say!!! Second of all, how would they know the eternal security of that young man!? I have already established that suicide, while egregious, is handled the same way by God as the sin of lying. If God handles them the same way, then how can suicide be the unpardonable sin?

I personally agree with and appreciate what Hanegraaf has to say about this:

“no single act is unforgivable. The unforgivable sin is a continuous, ongoing rejection of forgiveness. Those who refuse forgiveness through Christ will spend eternity separated from his love and grace. Conversely, those who sincerely desire forgiveness can be absolutely certain that God will never spurn them.”(398)

Who are we to say that someone who has committed suicide did not get right with God, ask for His forgiveness, and accept Christ fully right before they committed the act? If a person who has accepted Christ right before committing suicide is sent to Hell, then so is the person whose tells a lie right before they die. Ephesians 2:8 points out, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

This means, when we put our faith in God and what He has done through Jesus, then we receive Christ’s grace. That grace is pouUnknownred onto our whole lives. Christ’s forgiveness is of our sins past, present, and future. Think about that for a second: Jesus has already forgiven sins I have yet to commit!! Woah, talk about mind blown! (This is by the way, not a license to go out and sin as we please.) Here’s the point: if you have accepted Christ as your savior then God has already accepted you; you are one of His children. YOU BELONG TO HIM!!!
Nothing can change that; not even something bad that you did at the last moment of your life. Our relationships with Christ are not about keeping track of rights and wrongs, that  is grace through works. Our salvation is in grace through faith in what Christ has done for us. In that breath then, we need to be exercising our faith in Him by glorifying Him, worshiping Him, enjoying Him, and loving Him with our entire being. To say that if a Christian commits suicide and they are not forgiven is a slap in the very face of God.

Now, as to the debate of if a Christian would really commit suicide, I do not know if I should get into that. Hank Hanegraaf says that the thought of suicide is one that Christians dare not contemplate.(398) But, who am I to say that even a Christian could not lose sight of the value of their life? Many Christians battle with depression and anxiety. These diseases have been linked to many suicides. For this part of the debate, I will say that I cannot say for certain if a true Christian can commit suicide or not. Instead, what I will say is that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be spreading the wonderful gift that we have through Jesus… It is not our job to condemn people to Hell (I am thankful for that), rather, we need to spread the word to people that YOU MATTER AND GOD CARES!

 

Bibliography

Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book. Nashville Tennessee Thomas Nelson. 2008.

Discerning God’s Will

Posted: August 9, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Uncategorized
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In light of our prayerful journey in re-launching Lift Your Voice ministries, I thought it would be a good time to write on a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time, namely, God’s will.

Confession: I am a perfectionist and am afraid of making mistakes, especially making wrong decisions.

Because of this, I have lived in paralyzing anxiety over how to handle situations in my life. I would pray, but not hear an answer. I would read the Bible, but find no clarity. What if I made the wrong choice? What if I missed something God had for me? What if…? I could question my little life choices until the cows came home. Thankfully, my anxiety has improved along with my faith through, you guessed it, trials and struggles.

I discovered a key component to discerning God’s will in a previous relationship. I had been praying before the relationship, and praying during the relationship, but I didn’t know if it was “right.” By this time, I was in my early 20s and I didn’t believe in casual dating. I was dating to found a spouse, a life-time partner and companion. I was greatly conflicted, because my emotions and logic were tangled in a lovely mess. Part of me wanted to tell my brain to chill, while the other part of me wanted to tell my heart to quit interfering. People always say “listen to your heart,” as if the heart and emotions are trustworthy. God himself speaks on this in Genesis 8:21, stating that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” I continued to live in doubt, doubting my choices and doubting what God had for me.

Somewhere along in the relationship, I talked to my parents over my dilemma. My father wisely said to give it to God by praying “Lord, if this is your will, bless this relationship. If not, take it away. I give it to you.” I was confused, because I thought I had been praying that. I realized my mouth had said the words, but my heart and my soul had not backed those words. When I finally became desperate and no longer cared if I lost the relationship, I prayed, “God, I want your will. Please bless this or take it away. I don’t need him God, I need you.” True to God’s promise that He answers prayer, the relationship ended within the next few days. It hurt, I cried, but I had never been more at peace or more sure that I had made the right decision.

Ok, Larkin, you’re saying, that’s all nice and your love life is fascinating, but what does this have to do with finding God’s will, and why are you sharing this now?

Excellent question!

After that relationship ended, my new life motto and prayer was “Bless it or take it away.” That simple. And it was liberating. I learned in my single months that God is not an eight ball you shake for answers nor a genie who gives you whatever you want, but a loving Friend and Father who gives you what you need. I learned that God wanted very little from me, that all He desired was a close relationship with me and that I love others as He loves. Love God, love others. Seek to please Him. It wasn’t a matter of a checklist, or simple yes and no’s. It was a daily walk with God. It was freedom to choose within His will, too. As long as I was in prayer and seeking His face with my hands not grasping onto anything, claiming things as my own, God would not steer me wrong. Things and people could pass in and out of my life without me fearing the outcome, because I was not in control, and that is a wonderful place to be.

In light of Lift Your Voice ministries, my prayer is the same: “Lord, bless this ministry by providing the things you know we need and bringing people into our lives that will help us and encourage us along the way. This ministry is yours. If this ministry is not your will, withhold your blessing, and take it away. Though we feel this is right, we want what you know is right. We trust you, Lord. Amen.”

 

May you live in peace as you seek God through a relationship with Him and allow him to “bless or take away” things in your life.

 

God’s peace be with you,

Larkin

Something Like Scales

Posted: June 29, 2012 by ericrasberry in Uncategorized

“As he neared Demascus…” that is how verse 3 of Acts chapter 9 starts.  I was reading that this morning and I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.  How many times have I been on my way to “Demascus” and God intervened?  How many times have I been knowingly on my way to do something and God got in my way?  In this account in Acts we know that Paul, then Saul, is on his way to Demascus to continue his persecution of followers of Jesus and before he got there God stopped him in his tracks and his life was never the same.  Every Christian has had a moment where once they were blind and then they could see; every Christian has had their Demascus road experience.  (Side note: I think that the song Amazing Grace has special meaning to Paul)

But I think it’s important to take that encounter and apply it to what the Holy Spirit does to those who he indwells.  We are all prone to wander from God, we are all attracted and drawn away by our own desires and enticed into sin.  Our flesh is constantly at war with the Spirit.  I realized as I looked back at my own life how many times I wandered down the “road to Demascus” and God in his mercy and grace convicted me and I repented. 

I think we all should take a moment to lift a special praise to the Lord for loving us enough to catch us on our way to hurt him and ourselves and renew a right relationship with him.