Monday, September 30, 2013

Living Free

I don't know of anything stickier than making rice crispy treats.  Without well greased fingers, the goo just keeps building up into bigger globs.  The more you touch it, the more it adheres.

Life can be like that.  We throw in a few careless words,

some insecurities, some puffs of pride,

add the heat of stress or trial, and find ourselves in a sticky mess.

The more we try to fix it, the bigger the problem becomes, until, before long, we have a mountain of trouble. 

Oh, we keep it well hidden.  The chocolate glaze hides all the sticky and others think we are doing mighty fine.  But deep down, on the inside, we know there are messes molded together, beginning to harden in bitterness.

This is some of what I shared with the women at our ladies' retreat.  Little did I know that God would reveal some hardened places in my own heart that needed to be softened.  Both in accepting God's grace and in extending it to others.

God directed me to the life of Joseph, the grandson of Abraham.  If anyone had a sticky mess, he certainly did!  Coming from a family of 12 siblings, four jealous mothers, and one biased father, he had a mountain of a mess.

But we know that Joseph did his own part in contributing to that sticky mess.  He was a tattle tell and the favorite of his father.  He pushed his brothers' jealousies even further by telling them of his dreams and wearing his fancy coat.

However, Joseph eventually ended up in a pit and then was sold as a slave to another country.  Later he was falsely accused and thrown into an Egyptian prison.  His family did not know where he was, nor did they care.  No one was coming to rescue him.  He was completely helpless.

Yet, Joseph did not just survive, he thrived because. . . He kept a heavenly perspective.  He believed in the God of his fathers and knew that God could use what was meant for evil and turn it for good.   At just the right time, God delivered Joseph from prison and exalted him to the highest position in Egypt, next to Pharaoh.

That little phrase, 'at just the right time', is the catch.  We want God to fix our problems in our time and in our way.

I believe Joseph truly died in that prison.  He died to self-pity, to the sting of hurt, to grudges, and to bitterness.  However, time in that dungeon was needed for the character of Joseph to be refined that he might be ready for the glory God had planned.

Do you ever fight the dungeon seasons of your life?  I know I do.  I cannot see beyond the sticky mess and feel utterly helpless to fix it. 

But GOD. . .  (Rom. 5:8)

While we are caught in the mess, He extends His grace.  He is mighty to save.

But faith is required, for the righteous live by faith.  (Rom. 1:17) God does not always let us see because He wants us to simply trust Him, even in the dungeon.  An eternal perspective is crucial to faith.

When the time is right, God begins to cut away our mountain of  a mess and transform it into something good . . . even delicious.

Because God has lavished so much grace on us, we need to extend grace to others, letting them go free.   This is done only by the oil of God's Spirit.

And the beauty of it all?  In that release, we become free as well.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free..."  Gal. 5:1

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