I was asked to speak at a ladies conference recently which is totally out of my element. It definitely stretched me. The following four blog posts are a result of some of the message I gave at the conference. I will be posting the rest over the next few weeks.
God interrupted my life. He came busting in on a pencil given to me at Christmas from my third grade public school teacher and a little tiny Bible that I received at a carnival. You could look into the end of the Bible and see magnified inside Psalm 23.
The little Bible I kept under my pillow as a child it made me feel safe. I would take it out and peer into it.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The pencil had printed on it, in tiny lettering, Luke 2:10-14
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [a]Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [b]manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
As a child, my family went to church on occasion. We were not what I would call regular churchgoers. My family consisted of my mom and dad and my brother who was six years younger than I was. I blame the unstable church attendance on the account of my family moving a lot when I was a child. I had moved to six different cities by the time I was thirteen. I was accustom to change and kind of enjoyed it. I never really had close friends. We never stayed anywhere long enough for that. However, all that changed when we moved to a small town in Tennessee. God stepped in and interrupted my life.
A new pastor had come to a church not far from my home and he was going door to door meeting those who lived right around the church. My parents invited him in and it was on a couch in my living room that the writings on the pencil and the little Bible’s words would become more than words.
Jesus interrupted that day and forever changed my course. My brother who was about seven sat on the same couch and said the same prayer, but things turned out much differently for him. Fast forward to a few months after my brothers 39th birthday and you will find him shot in the chest dying on an apartment complex parking lot. Many bad choices led him to this place. The few months prior to his death he had begun to make some positive changes in his life. He had left behind some things that had entangled him. I had recently been told he made a profession of faith. But that night in May when a neighbor ran to his apartment and told him someone needed help he walked out his door and confronted another 39-year-old man. This man was a drug dealer who was trying to make his escape. My brother called for him to stop and the dealer turned and shot him.
The enemy interrupted my life the day I got the news. He interrupted with the power of regret.
Regret that I wasn’t a better sister.
Regret that I didn’t make sure he was truly converted.
Regret that I let long periods of time pass before I talked with him.
Regret that I didn’t love him, as Jesus wanted me to.
There are more layers to this story and the events leading up to my brothers murder, but this is the bottom line: A life gone, a sister wishing she had done more. I wanted a do-over, but there are no do-overs. Only painful memories of how it should have gone. And the enemy used every single one of them
But, God who has defeated the enemy interrupted
Regret is a powerful tool in the hand of the enemy.
The enemy tried to take hold of my mind that day, but the grace of God stepped in.
The enemy is powerful… as Scripture says… seeking to destroy, but God is greater.
Let God renew your mind, let your mind be steadfast on him.
I cannot do anything about the past now, but I cannot be immobilized by the enemy. I cannot get stuck there. After many years in ministry I have seen that many believers are stuck somewhere in the past. Jesus did not die for us so that we could be stuck. He has forgiven us, we need to recognize our sin, ask forgiveness and MOVE ON.
You cannot give the enemy control of your mind. Isaiah 26: says…
“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”
Romans 12:2 tells us “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
How do you renew your mind? You stay in the Word everyday. You let it sink deep into your soul.
“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” Psalm 119:97
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” Colosians 3:16
Love the Word. It will hold you when the enemy wants to use your failures to sidetrack and destroy you.
Part 2 coming soon.