“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde
To the many women in my life who have prayed for me this year: Thank you! I have needed it, it has helped, and I am back. The summer was rough but it is now behind us. Fall is upon us and it is time to live in this moment. Each day in the month of September has been better than the last. When I awakened this morning, the first thought on my mind was the need to release the relentless thoughts of the challenges of the most difficult 42 days of the year. There have been 215 other absolutely fabulous days in the same year. I will not allow this difficult minority to haunt the fantastic majority any longer. I made it through and am here now to press on towards greater things.
Our God has given us a spirit of courage and a charge to do life big. There is much to accomplish in the vineyard and little time to get it done. The growing season is behind us and the harvest is upon us. Now is the time to dream big and dare to fail; throw caution to the wind and live out our purpose; leave isolation behind us and live out loud; abandon doubt and love boldly; press on and be optimistic. Solitude is sinful when there are so many souls searching. The glass menagerie, the ornamental exhibit of 42 captives, has shattered. The pieces of pain have been laid at the foot of the cross, in an acknowledgment of what they are and an acceptance that we are not in it alone. In His time, He will take what is left, multiply them, then divide them so they can be used for His glory.
The commentary in The Voice translation in 2 Corinthians 13 tells us, “Weakness looks like failure in the eyes of the world, but…weakness is an avenue to share in Jesus’ death and, therefore, in His life as well. The challenge is to remain faithful even in the difficult times, even when there is no one left to provide support. It is in these times that God’s power and comfort are most evident. This call to embrace weakness and suffering is difficult. It is normal to run from pain. But the examples of Jesus in the Gospels, of Paul in his letters, and of David in the psalms are of finding God’s strength in times of weakness.” “Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die… When in the midst of sorrow, you can’ t see up when looking down. A brighter day tomorrow will bring. You hear the voice of reason telling you this can’t ever be done. No matter how hard reality seems, just hold on to your dreams. Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win. You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky. You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky. You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be optimistic!” Sounds of Blackness – Optimistic
If anyone understood the harshness of this world, the Son of Man did. He left His place in heaven and laid it all on the line just so we can live in eternity with Him. His suffering was great and he paid the ultimate price for us. Through it all, God was with Him. Through His obedience, He fulfilled the scriptures so we would never be separated from Him again.
Mark 15:15-37 in part tells us, “15 When Pilate saw that he could not persuade the crowd to change its mind, he…had Jesus publicly whipped, which was the normal prelude to crucifixion. Then he had Jesus led away to be crucified…17 They put a purple robe on Him and made a crown of thorns that they forced onto His head, 18 and they began to cry out in mock salute. 19 For a long while they beat Him on the head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down as if to honor Him. 20 When they had finished mocking Him, they stripped off His purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they took Him away to be executed…24 And so they crucified Him, divided up His clothes, and cast lots (an ancient equivalent of rolling dice) to see who would keep the clothes they had stripped from Him. 25 His crucifixion began about nine o’clock in the morning…29 Those passing by on their way into or out of Jerusalem insulted and ridiculed Him…33 At noon, the day suddenly darkened for three hours across the entire land. 34 Sometime around three o’clock Jesus called out in a loud voice. Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Jesus was speaking, as in the psalms, ‘My God, My God, why have You turned Your back on Me?’…37 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and He took His last breath. 38 At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The commentary from the VOICE translation of Mark 15 explains, “The tearing of the temple veil is a picture of what Jesus’ death has accomplished. The temple sanctuary is divided into two sections: the holy place and the most holy place. The most holy place is a chamber so sanctified that only the high priest can enter—and then only once a year. There God’s presence is manifest on earth. A long curtain divides the two areas, and at the moment of Jesus’ death it is torn in two. The veil that serves as a means to protect everyone but the high priest from the power of God’s presence is no longer needed because Jesus, on account of His sacrificial death, gives everyone access to God. Only God Himself can rip the curtain in two ‘from top to bottom,’ opening the way for people to come into His presence.”
Our God is with us from beginning to end, through all of our triumphs and trials. What made the victory of conquering the mountain so sweet is that we traversed the valley first. The climb was steep, intense, and arduous. But we did it because we remained faithful and persevered with the support of others who believe in His vision.
Jesus came to earth and lived out His mission, which included many trials, challenges and difficulties. His example was to go all out and to be all in without regard for how hard it might be. The challenges of the summer taught me many lessons and I now know that they were each a blessing in disguise. Through my weakness, I gained strength; because of adversity, I received wisdom; in my moments of despair, seedlings of hope blossomed. “If things around you crumble, no you don’t have to stumble and fall. Keep pushing on and don’t you look back. I know that storms and strife cloud up your outlook on life. Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired to reach higher and higher. You’ll always do your best if you learn to never say never. You may be down but you’re not out. Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win. You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky. You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child). You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be optimistic! – Optimistic
11-13 And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Now that you know there is nothing standing between you and Him, what’s stopping you? What is your calling in life? Whatever it is, pursue it earnestly. Leave nothing on the table and no room for regrets. He is with you and your sisters are praying for you. What power against you can prevail? Now go get ‘em! Whatever He is calling you to do, do it big.