Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Apostle Paul, A Do-Over and a Letter to Somebody’s Mother Prayer Support Group

Today in honor of National Day of Prayer, I scanned through our member’s pictures, praying for each one. We are a beautiful, sometimes motley, crew. I say that with the same love I use describing some of my own family pictures.

There are a few brave men among us, but mostly we are just mothers praying, loving, and living as best as we can for the Lord. We stand on His Word, always. We try to love as He does; sometimes it isn’t always relayed as that. I was thinking of the Apostle Paul this morning and how when he had blinders on, before the Lord truly blinded him on the road to Damascus, he thought he was doing the right thing, by murdering Christians. No one could tell him different. He was doing justice in his own eyes. He was living his life in a way that he thought was the plan of God when the Lord’s plan was different. It was a way to make a Romans 8:28 life, a life where all things work together for good.

“ Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6 (NIV)

When Saul (Paul) was blinded he didn’t know if he would ever get his sight back, he was at the mercy of the Lord and all those who would guide him where he needed to go. He had no idea that his path would soon be to proclaim Jesus, every day in every way. He had no idea that Christians down the centuries would read his writings and be encouraged. Only the Holy Spirit can open eyes the way that Paul’s eyes needed to be opened.

Many of us have blind spots. We pray that the Holy Spirit open our eyes and the eyes of our loved ones. Then the true power will come and chains will be broken and families healed. Yes, it is true that the Lord creates families in many different ways, some by birth, some by blood and some by adoption. He is the one who places us. I wanted a daddy like on “Father Knows Best” or “Little House on the Prairie.” That didn’t happen. I am grateful the Lord chose to adopt me, as I never really felt a father’s love. I melt into my true Father’s arms of love, not being able to get close enough, stay long enough or sing loud enough about that love.

I know that for many people it was hard to trust Paul and that he had changed. Don’t you know that he had a past to live down a past that in his mind, I’m sure many times, he would ponder? He may have said, “Oh Lord, how could I have watched them stone dear Stephen, Your beloved child, and think that was a good thing?”

“Lord, I have killed families of people who loved you!”

“Lord, I wish that I hadn’t done those things. I wish I hadn’t lived that way for so long. I wish I could do it over!”

Later on we read that Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the Lord’s name. And perhaps his thorn in the flesh was bearing the pain of the things he had done in his past. I hope that he was able to accept that the Lord looks at the heart. That is the only way I can get over regrets is thinking that if someone could just look into my heart, they would know that I would never intentionally hurt anyone.

Many of us live with regrets; acceptance is the only thing that will get us through the day. The Lord knew our futures when we were walking in our past. He knew the plans He had for us for hope. He knew He loved us. He has a plan. Sometimes I admit, I don’t like His plan because it has been painful. I want to wave a magic wand and make everyone well, happy and whole. Life doesn’t work that way, dear ones. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, it is for sure, as my Mama would say. Think Corrie ten Boom, (“There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still”) think Joni Eareckson Tada, think Joan of Arc, (“Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!”) think perhaps even yourself, a survivor finding your way on this journey. Maybe you are like me, and wish you had done something better as a mother, wishing you could be like the perfect ones you see around you. I always come back to this:

All our stories will not be the same; they don’t all end “happily ever after.” What does that woman do, when all the Christian books end with a happy ending, and her life seems full of pain? Where is the comfort for that daughter of God?

What do you do when everything you dreamed for your family seems to fall apart? What do you do when your heart keeps getting broken, yet you want to glorify the Lord in your circumstances? Even though there are some good things in your life, emotional pain and trauma seems to follow you. It sometimes is all you can do to literally place one foot in front of the other and do the next thing.

The refreshing that you long for in the Lord just does not come. And the breaking seems to come faster without much relief in between. You sometimes wonder if you will have the strength to go on. Not everyone will get their “happy ending” perhaps in the way they dreamed it. But life can still be good and we can still look for good regardless of our circumstances. I started off this blog as I surveyed the pictures of our prayer group, thinking how different each person is, but they are loved.

Some have lost children, husbands, parents, some have children in prison, some are living with addictions, and some are just fellow sojourners bonded by prayer. Remember today, if you don’t remember anything else from the blog that Jesus is our answer for everything. And together we are strong.

Keep praying and keep loving.

I encourage you to read Acts, especially chapter nine where some of these verses are found.

Donna Collins Tinsley

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