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Posts Tagged ‘God’s mercy’

printcover_hush copy (2)My publisher emailed the cover of my novel, Hush in the Storm, which launches August 6th. It looked perfect. With dancing fingers over my keyboard, I sent it out to my family and friends who have been so instrumental in helping this book become a reality.

My niece, who is artistic and always has a keen eye for detail, wrote back. “It would look better if the heroine on the cover didn’t have cacti growing from her shoulders.”

Whaatt????

I hadn’t noticed that. I concentrated on the clouds, the landscape, the girl hushing.  I emailed the comment to my publisher. Within minutes, the graphic artist corrected  it. Whew!! Thank you, Lord. I marveled at her mastery in technique and  greatly appreciated her immediate response to make things right.

Where did I see God in all this? Sometimes there are little flaws which may hinder how we are perceived. Our witness may be hindered by them. They may blare out to other people and cause them not to focus on the real message we are trying to convey.

Of course we are all works in progress and perfection will only reached  through the mercy of Christ when we escape our human nature and reach Heaven. But I also believe God brings people into our lives who have a keen eye and can point out the flaws we need to correct — the ones we don’t notice but others do, like breadstick cacti growing out of a pair of shoulders.

Because it is a Christian publisher, no feathers were ruffled. Authors, editors, proofreaders, and the graphics masters have the same goal – spread the message of redemption  and grace through wholesome, yet intriguing fiction.

But, it made me ponder. Am I as gracious when someone in the Body lovingly and  tactfully points out an area in my life that could use some more work? How quick am I to go to the Master to correct it?

 

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Growing up, Mom draped comforters over the ends of our beds. It was an extra cover in case we got cold in the night. Weather in Texas can change in a heart beat. When we felt ill, she would wrap us in our comforter and place us on the couch so she could go about her housework and still keep a watchful eye onID-100112567 us. To this day, a comforter symbolizes love, healing, warmth, and security to me. I still keep one at the end of my bed.  And when I am ill, I still snatch it off my bed and migrate to the couch.

Being cozy and warm is like having arms wrapped around you. You feel cocooned in peace and sheltered from the harsh winds of the world. Prayer shawls can have that effect. They make you feel as if you are enveloped in God’s love. Even without my shawl, my prayer time with God often feels that way, no matter if I am praying for someone else or  if I am coming to Him on contrite knees asking forgiveness. I still feel His Holy Spirit hugging me. His presence surrounds me, protects me and loves on me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,iwho comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

That is how Paul starts off his second letter to the Corinthian Christians. My brain spun around this verse like a loop-de-loop on a roller coaster. It wove in and out of the clauses in a spiral that didn’t end. If  I wrote that passage today, my editor would have sent it back with so many red marks all over it – over use of the same words, run-on sentences, etc.

Yet, Paul gives us a true golden nugget because his progression is logical. Giving comfort is a non-ending spiral.  Before we can comfort, we have to have been comforted.You cannot share an experience you have never had. And, because we have been comforted, we should now comfort others. Why? Because as Christians, our comforter is the Father of  mercies and God of all comfort. He designed it so that our response to His comfort would be to spread that comfort to others and lead them to Him.

Because I know my Lord forgives my iniquities, I can more easily forgive others. That opens me to being able to provide them comfort, and more importantly, showing them my Lord who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

Are your comfort-able to receive God’s mercy and love? Maybe you will feel called to wrap His love around someone else’s shoulders like a comforter this week? Or perhaps, you need to become more comfortable with the idea of allowing someone to wrap His comfort around you. Whichever scenario fits your situation, it’s okay. Grab your comforter, prayer shawl or blankie and snuggle in. Comfort awaits.

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A dear friend of mine, R.W. Ley, is a Christian suspense fiction author and also a public speaker. She spoke to my churchwomen’s conference over the weekend on the boxes we all carry.

Many of us use them for storage. We store not only the fond memories but the negative ones as well. You know the ones- the hurts, the grudges, the “I’ve been wronged” angers- things we can pull out whenever we need an excuse for what we are feeling or how we are acting. Some people carry them for decades. But that only weighs us down and wedges a wall between us and God’s mercy. How can we ever be healed if we are not willing to let go of all that we have stored up in our hearts?

Others use their boxes to hide in so they can barricade themselves from others so they never can be hurt again. It is the touch-me not attitude. Have you ever seen that little leaf? It grows close to the ground like a minuscule fern. Touch the leaves and they close up tight for hours.

But, God calls us to use our boxes as a platform. We need them so we can stand above whatever life throws in our direction and then bend down and help others up onto their up-turned boxes. God is in the up-turning business. It may not be pleasant to revisit all those negative things so we can toss them. It may be scary to step out of our hiding place and choose to be vulnerable. It may feel odd to be flipped around to where He can use us as a beacon to others.  It was a great talk.

On the way home, I pondered over her message about boxes.

There is one thing we must never do. Put God in a box. Just as it is wrong to harbor old feelings, or barricade ourselves from the world, or shrink from stepping up and out as a witness for His love, it is equally wrong to make God into our faulty image. We should not box in His grace with regulations and rules that keep others out of our churches or out of our lives. Too many Christians have boxed oeven other believers out on issues such as dress styles, whether or not to dance, drink wine, or how often we should take communion. Are we allowed accoustical guitars and drums in worship, or only an organ, or a piano, or no instruments at all?

We, who are supposed to be united in Christ, have segmented ourselves. The foot has been severed. So has the hand, the nose, the ears. How attractive to others is that? We push and battle for souls – no, don’t go to church over there. Open our box and come in. Their box is too confining for you, or their box is not confining enough so it might lead to sin. We will make you fit just right.

The religious authorities tried to box Jesus into their definition of a Messiah. When He did not fit, they turned away or declared him a blasphemous fraud.  God calls us to think out of the box. It is then that we can witness His miracles in our lives and the ones of those around us.  We can be vulnerable and still trust because, like an invisible and unmeasurable shield, He is our protection. Besides, what we don’t box in we have less of a tendency to hoard or claim as exlusively ours. All God has given freely we must receive, and then be wiling to share without boxing it up.

The only box we need is the one God gives us as a gift through accepting Christ- His eternal love. And that box has no boundaries.

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