Jesus + Therapy = Healing
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
In 2016, I had my first panic attack. It had been a rough year. I mean, I lost one of my best friends to the same invasive, evil, malicious cancer that my mom suffered from. I watched him lay dying helpless once again. Prayer and crying were my only means of relief. I slept very few hours each night. I was always nervous. My stomach was always hurting. I felt nauseous. When he died, I had a permanent frown on my face for months. I went to work and tried to be normal, tried to laugh with friends and go out, but his death, the void, the emptiness was always on my mind, in my heart.
I was not okay! But it was not okay, in my opinion, to tell others that I was not okay. I lost my mother at 24 and started the journey of raising my sister. I wore strength like a brand new jacket and believed the mantra that you should “never let them see you sweat”. But guess what? I was dripping wet with sweat and “they” saw it. I wasn’t hiding it from the people who truly knew and loved me.
For months my cousin told me to get help. She insisted that I was not okay and that something was terribly wrong with me, but I deferred each time. I am just tired. I just can’t sleep. I’ve just been busy at work. But deep down, I honestly knew that I was a shell of my former self.
I attended church, dived into the word of God and prayed. Intrinsically, I knew that I would be okay. I knew that weeping would endure for a night, and that joy would come in the morning, however I was struggling to make it to the morning. It was dark, cloudy and raining in my world, even on my best days.
It was in September of 2016, 5 months after my best friend had passed that I experienced a panic attack while on the phone with my cousin. I was in the parking lot of my job and as I walked out, I just lost it; I started screaming and hyperventilating. It was terrible. It was like I knew I was supposed to be able to snap out of this, but I couldn’t.
At lunch a few days later, I shared with a friend that I would often wish for a fender bender – nothing major, on the way to work so that I would not have to go into the office. I was just that miserable at work. With eyes and mouth wide open in awe, she told me that I needed to talk to someone and soon. She said that it was imperative, that I get help and that it was not normal to want to have a wreck to get out of work.
It took a few more conversations with my friends and cousin, before I dialed the number. The stress had continued to build at work, my heart was mending slowly, my nights were sleepless. I decided to call a therapist. IT WAS THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE!
In the midst of going to therapy, I had several more anxiety and panic attacks. My therapist recommended that I get more intense therapy and she recommended that I go get tested for depression and anxiety. No ma’am! I am a strong black woman and I am not depressed or anxious! LIES! Against my better judgement, I went to the doctor and sat through a battery of tests that determined that I was suffering from severe depression and high anxiety.
I was taken off of work for six weeks and enrolled in group sessions, one - on - one therapy, and mental health classes. It was WONDERFUL. I learned to integrate spirituality with mental health. I learned about setting boundaries and saying no and putting myself first. I learned that I had been in survival mode for 15 years since my mother had passed away and that I was not only grieving my best friend, but for my mother. I went immediately into survival mode so quickly after my mother’s death, that I never really grieved. I learned that the fight or flight response was supposed to last for an hour, but I had been in fight mode – survival mode, for years.
I discovered a brand new me in therapy which made me more aware and in tune with who I was, whose I was, and who I was striving to become. Therapy, for so long, has been a negative word in our communities. In many homes, therapy is synonymous with the four letter words that you better not say unless you are prepared to get your mouth washed out with soap. BUT our communities are suffering. We hide and cope by using drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, marijuana and popping pills.
The Christian community often feels like all you need to do is pray and I am a firm believer in the power of God and Prayer. It works, but sometimes you need to sit down with an unbiased professional that can help you identify your root cause, the behaviors that have you bound, the people that may have contributed to your brokenness and help you develop a plan for working out the kinks of life. Therapy is not a bad word. Even the Bible says that in a multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 24:5). Seek wise counsel. Find a therapist, and get the help and healing that you need.
Try God and then Try Therapy. Jesus + Therapy = Healing! Be Blessed. Be Healed. Live in the Red. #Loved and #Forgiven.
Matthew 11:12 … The Kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.
Have you ever seen a real live street fight or an after school fist fight? It always starts with words. One party will say the “wrong thing” and another party will counter with their “right thing”. This exchange normally goes on for a couple of minutes before fists are thrown, hair is pulled and pummeling begins. As an educator, I have seen my fair share of fights. That’s one of the reasons, I started San’s Child, Inc. to counteract anger, aggression, bullying and fighting, but I digress.
Normally, a good fist fight starts with words. An insult that really hurt the other’s feelings at the core, but turned into anger as it manifested. As a result, the fists fly. Matthew 11:12 says that the kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. That means that the violent - those that are inflicting violence are coming with the heat. They didn’t come to play and so they don’t play. We have an accuser who comes with the heat everyday. He takes no days off. His only job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
This accuser, however doesn’t attack us with sticks and stones, he attacks our minds and thoughts. He attacks how we feel about ourselves; he attacks our self-esteem, our relationships; our families. It’s a mental attack. In order to win this attack with the enemy, you have to have some fighting words! An arsenal of resources that will help you when each battle. I mean you have to be prepared to issue a 1 – 2 verbal punch that will send him running. You have to hide the word in your heart so that when, it’s time to fight, you’re ready blow for blow.
When sickness hits, you have to say I am healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:5). When financial pressures come you have to declare, I am a lender and not a borrower (Deuteronomy 28:12-13); I am blessed in the city and blessed in the field (Deuteronomy 28:3). When depression hits, you have to declare that he shall turn my mourning into weeping and give me a garment of praise for a Spirit of Heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). Listen! You have to have some fighting words.
When Jesus was tempted by satan, He didn’t say “Leave Me Alone” or “Go Away”. He used the word of God to defeat satan. Things are no different now. We can’t fight satan with fists or stones like David fought Goliath, we have to fight him with the word of God. But not only do “Fighting Words” fight the enemy, they encourage you.
The Bible says that David encouraged himself! David was being chased by King Saul. He wanted to kill David. It was simply a matter of jealousy, but the Bible says that when David got low, he encouraged himself. He reminded himself of who he was in the Lord.
There will be times in life when you have to encourage yourself. You will have to use your fighting words to remind yourself who and whose you are. Satan wants to take your courage, but when you encourage yourself, you take that courage back! Speak over yourself. Declare the word of God over your life. Don’t let the accuser keep you in the past. Daily repent and work on being better. You have to remember that you are in a rigged fight with a defeated foe! We have already won!
Find you a couple of scriptures that are near and dear and whenever the enemy attacks, use them to fight. The word of God cannot return void (Isaiah 55:11), it has to accomplish what God wants it to accomplish. Remember to stay in the RED – loved and forgiven.
You can Win!
Judges 6:15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Gideon was my cousin! I’m kidding! I have not traced my lineage to Gideon. But his statement in Judges 6:15, sounds like something I have said to God a time or two. But what I said was more like, “Excuse me, God, you know this is Taura and you know I can’t do what you called me to do because…” and then I list whatever excuse is most appropriate in that moment. “I don’t know the right people. People don’t know me. My hair is natural. I am overweight. My shoes are too tight. I don’t have the right clothes.” Just any ole excuse, I can come up with, I come up with it!
And the Lord replies to me just like He replied to Gideon in Judges 6:16. “I will be with you…” And then the mattered is settled. I say yes to the job, the project, the speaking engagement, or whatever the fear is that is holding me back.
If He called you to do it, He will equip you for it. So Gideon’s task was to go up against the Midianites, who had imprisoned the Israelites. The Israelites continued to do evil in the sight of the Lord time after time (sound like anyone you know?) And the Lord punished them, this particular time by making them subject to the Midianites, who were very oppressive. They cried out to the Lord for help again and in His graciousness, He answered.
An angel met Gideon, the mighty warrior and told him that the Lord was with him. Gideon was like, “NO he couldn’t be, because if He was, this wouldn’t have happened. The Lord has abandoned us and given us to the Midianites.” But God said, “I am sending you to strike down the Midianites.”
The Lord prepared Gideon for battle and told him to gather his men together. Gideon gathered the men together, but God said he had too many. Gideon told any man that was fearful and wanted to go back home to leave. 22,000 left! Can you imagine the scene? 22,000 able-bodied, fearful men walking away to go back home. Thank God there were still 10,000 men. But God told Gideon there were still too many men. So He said sent them to the water and said all those who lap water like a dog would stay with Gideon. That was only 300 men.
I am sure Gideon was thinking, Wait? What? Only 300 men are going to defeat the Midianites, who had over 120,000 in their army. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give you the Midianites into your hands. Let the others go home.” (Judges 7:7)
There is a song that says, little becomes much when placed in the Master’s hand. As a cousin of Gideon, I would have been thinking, ummm I think I may need just a few more people to go with me. But God said, you’re good, I am with you. Don’t you love how He makes sure that they will know that HE won this battle and not Gideon. If Gideon had taken all of the men, they would have said, it was just because they had all of the strongest, mightiest men. God removed all of the men so they would know it was Him.
He does the same with us. He removes all doubt when He blesses us. He puts in you in places that your GED can’t grant you. He puts you in houses that your credit score won’t allow. He puts you in positions where your background wouldn’t dare have opened the door. He makes the impossible, possible.
You can win! He wants you to know with all your excuses, you can win. With all the resources that you don’t have, you can win. With all the people that left you, you can win. With all the baggage that you and I insist on carrying, you can win. Look at Gideon, a man who didn’t believe in himself and felt that he was from the weakest clan, He still WON. You can too! Remember to live in the RED ~ Loved and Forgiven.
When the King Couldn’t Sleep...
Esther 6:1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.
Have you ever heard the saying… Heavy is the head that wears the crown? Translated, it means that people with power, authority and responsibility have much to manage and they have a lot on their minds. Since the women’s movement of 1848 in New York City, women have increasingly entered into fields and areas of power. Becoming CEOs. CFO’s, Doctors, Lawyers and Principals and much more, women have much on their plates. Their crowns are often heavy and lead to insomnia when their sleep is interrupted with the cares of the world or their companies, staff, husbands, and homes.
Insomnia has been my friend on and off for many years. It has shown me that I shouldn’t take sleep for granted and that rest is so important. However, years ago, a friend told me that when you can’t sleep it’s a perfect time to talk to God or read the Bible. I now try to do both or write during those moments of insomnia.
King Xerxes, the Persian King (Esther 6), couldn’t sleep one night and decided to read the record book, which was the day to day journal of the events of the kingdom. He came across the story of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, who raised her after her parents’ death. Mordecai foiled the plans of the royal eunuchs who were trying to kill the King.
Grateful for Mordecai, the king asked his servants what had been done to reward this great man. His servants replied, nothing. So this begins the plot twist! The king asked if there was anyone out in the court during this time and the servants replied, Haman. So he invited Haman in to inquire of him of what should be done to honor a great man. Ironically, Haman was in the court because he was about to ask the king to hang Mordecai because 1) Mordecai was a Jew 2) Haman hated Jews and 3) Mordecai refused to bow to him!
The king however asked Haman, what would be appropriate for a man he wanted to honor. Ego-driven and thinking it was him that the King wanted to honor, he replied, “bring out a fine robe, a crown, and ride this man around on a horse proclaiming his greatness.” The king said go do it, now! To his surprise, it was Mordecai. Can you imagine how Haman felt? You could have bought him for a penny! He was BIG mad after that and devised a plan to kill ALL the Jews. However, that’s when Mordecai encouraged Esther to get involved. Read the book of Esther.
The theme of Esther can be summed up in a phrase my granddad used all the time… When you dig a ditch, dig two, because the first one you dig, will be for you. In this case, there wasn’t a ditch but a gallow. In Haman’s attempt to destroy the Jews, God’s chosen people, he was destroyed.
What I love about this Biblical account is the fact that the Jews were saved in essence because the King couldn’t sleep. There have been so many times that I have had sleepless nights and felt a great disdain for my friend insomnia, but sometimes the sleeplessness is because God is trying to lead me to a truth, or talk to me or open my eyes about a situation or circumstance that I’m going through.
I no longer despise sleepless nights. Like the King, I get busy, I start reading or writing or simply sit still to listen. There are NO coincidences in the Kingdom of God. The King HAD to have a sleepless night; he HAD to read the record book; Haman HAD to be walking through the court at that very moment to request the death of Mordecai. Esther HAD to be the chosen queen after Queen Vashti was cast out.
There is NOTHING in your life that has happened by coincidence – not your college choice, career, your job, your boo thang, your spouse, your children, your friends, your church, your home. NOTHING! God is a strategic God. He doesn’t throw out plans and assignments all “willy nilly”. Every event in your life has lined up for a purpose. If you don’t believe me, sit back and reflect on how you arrived at where you are today. You will see God’s hand all over it! I promise! Pinky Promise!
Hey! Remember to live in the RED – loved and forgiven!
If you love me…
John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.
When I was a little girl, I can remember watching soap operas with my mom and grandmom. I was always amazed at the story plots and twists as characters promised and vowed to love one another. Many promises were made about their love and many would issue some ultimatum or some hidden agenda for their love. “If you love me, you would give me all the money in your bank account.” “If you love me you wouldn’t tell people my secret.”
This was a very different kind of love than the love that God has for us. His love simply says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Just a special reminder that our love is an action word… obey. And guess what? There are only 10 of them! 1 John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”. God doesn’t give us burdens that we can’t handle and commandments that we can’t keep. His yoke is easy. His burdens are light.
In the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites the blessings that follow obedience. Some are… You will be set high above the nations on earth; You will be Blessed in the city and the field; The fruit of your womb will be blessed; You will be a lender and not a borrower; and have abundant prosperity. Read Chapter 28 for ALL the blessings of obedience. But notice that following the blessings for obedience are the curses for disobedience. If you read all the curses for disobedience, they are the opposite of the blessings for obedience.
God gives us the choice of blessings or curses based on our actions. He even says “If”, which is a conjunction introducing a conditional clause. If you love me, then obey my commandments. He is not forcing us to do it, but he says your love for me will show in how you keep my commandments.
I absolutely love the account of Jonah. I believe I am a direct descendant of Bro. Jonah. Here is the gist of Jonah’s account. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh to tell the people to get their lives together and repent. The people of Nineveh were very wicked enemies of Israel. Jonah was an Israelite and decided that he would not be going to Nineveh to preach to “those” people. So Jonah headed to Tarshish which was the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. He boarded a ship to escape. A storm arose and the men on board realized that Jonah was the cause of the storm so they threw him off. As soon as Jonah hit the water, the storm stopped. Jonah was then swallowed by a whale and stayed in the body of the whale for 3 days. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and prayed. He eventually went to Nineveh when he was thrown up by the whale.
To Jonah going to Nineveh made NO sense and he decided that he would go in the opposite direction (disobedience) of where the Lord was sending him. Nineveh was a country ridden with sin. It was the original “Sin City”, full of lawlessness and debauchery. Why Nineveh? We have to do what God says whether it makes sense or not!
Sometimes being obedient to God seems strange and is difficult to understand. I can only imagine how Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt when the angel told her that she would give birth to the Messiah. But her final response in Luke 1:38 was simply, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Simple obedience. I crave this type of obedience. I need this type of obedience in my life. Mary only asked how could this be I am a virgin (Luke 1:34), but her final response was that of obedience.
God requires our obedience. He doesn’t just speak to hear himself speak. He speaks so that He can convey a message or a command and our response should be obedience. We miss the blessings of God when we are disobedient.
Case in point… A few months ago as I was preparing for work, the Holy Spirit, clearly told me to pick up a box of pencils that were beside my bed and take them to work with me. Obedience would have been to just grab the box and head out the door, however, in my normal talk back, inquisitive fashion. I asked, “why do I need pencils?” Then I stated to the All-Knowing God of the Universe, “I don’t need pencils” and walked out the door to go to work WITHOUT the pencils. No sooner had I walked in the door of my job, did a young teacher, Mrs. Williams, walk up to me and ask me for pencils. I was in utter shock! I could not believe this was happening. A few things were running through my mind:
1) I had totally heard the voice of God. Some people pray to hear his voice and I had actually heard it even though I didn’t listen.
2) I missed an opportunity to testify to the younger teacher about how God was working in her life and answering her prayers through me. (Please note, she may not have prayed for pencils, but the fact that her need would have been met would have still been a blessing and maybe an opportunity for me to witness to her.)
3) I had to confess my sins – 1 John 1:9 says that “if we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I told my coworker about the pencils and that God had clearly told me to get the pencils and I had been disobedient. She accepted it, of course and said it was no big deal. But to me it was a HUGE deal.
4) I had to ask for forgiveness for my disobedience. I was not obedient and as a result I missed an opportunity to be blessed and a blessing to someone else.
Our obedience can change lives and situations. Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh, warned them to repent of their sins or their city would be destroyed in 40 days. The people repented and turned away from their sin. Jonah saved a city with a population of 120,000 citizens just because he was obedient. He kept God’s command to GO!
Remember, obedience and keeping God’s commandments are directly tied to God’s bountiful blessings. We show our love for God by how we keep or obey His commandments. Be obedient and live in the RED - loved and forgiven.
Living in the Dash
Living in the Dash
John 10:10… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
On April 6, 2016, I lost a good friend of mine, “Rod B”. Rod was such a good friend because he was the absolute polar opposite of me. For every plan that I wrote in my schedule, Rod spontaneously lived his life. For every healthy meal I tried to consume, Rod wanted hot wings. He cracked jokes, talked loud and lived life to the fullest. He died of Leukemia in 2016 and I was heartbroken. I mean, really?! This disease had already taken my mom and now my friend, Rod.
I was mad, but then I realized that something has to take each us out of here. If the Lord tarries, we will all die. Whether it’s disease, an accident, a car wreck or just passing peacefully in our sleep, we all have to leave here in order to get there – you know, Heaven. Unless of course we are like Enoch who just walked with God until he walked on to Heaven (Genesis 5:22).
When people die now, in this age of technology, it is often posted on a social media platform. I find myself going to look the various profiles to look at the person’s life. It’s as if I want to know all about them, what they did for a living, who they loved, what their hobbies and habits were and if they died in the Lord. This may be a strange practice of mine, but I am always curious about whether or not they lived their dash.
The dash is that tiny little symbol that is seen on funereal programs and headstones. My mom’s dash was July 5, 1954 – February 25, 2001. The dash represents our days from birth to death. It is so small and often times we think, so insignificant, but it’s so much more. The dash is the most important part of life. How you live in that dash, is the key to where you go after you die and what legacy you leave when you die. The dash symbolizes your life. God said that he came that you may have life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). He offers an abundant life to all of those who choose to live that life and want to live in that abundance.
The dash is where God can work and move in your life. What are you doing with the dash? How are you living? Are you following the Great Commission and telling others about Christ? Are you living your best life? Are you seeking and surrendering to God’s plan and will for your life? Are you living a congruent life – one that is aligned to what you say and who you say you are?
I want the abundant life that God has planned for me. I want every single thing that He has promised me – every blessing.
In 2001, my mother passed away. At that time, I was too young and grief-stricken to really reflect on her dash as I now can as a full grown adult. However, in 2016 when my friend, Rod passed away as a result of the same disease – Leukemia, I stopped to reflect on both of their lives. My mom lived her dash. She was funny, caring, so genuine and classy. I can remember her singing in the mornings as we got ready for school and work, turning flips in the backyard, going to the movies over and over, singing our made up songs in the laundry mat, taking road trips, Thursday night hoagie nights and making ice cream floats with sherbet and Sprite. She lived her dash to the fullest! She lived, laughed and loved and left a legacy for her children and family.
Rod did too. Shortly after he passed, I remember all the tributes and the pictures that showed up on social media. Even though I was sad, I remember laughing and smiling at the old pictures of Rod and the tributes that his family, friends and kids posted about him. Rod lived an abundant life.
God has promised us an abundant life. A life filled with good things. However, we also know that satan’s job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), so there will be bad things as well. We have to do all we can to live a life pleasing to God and one that our families can be proud about when we close our eyes. Remember to live your Dash in the RED ~ Loved and Forgiven
Luke 5:16 – And he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed.
My favorite past time is sitting in my car on busy parking lots. It seems that I make my best to-do lists there, read, find peace and often whisper words of prayer. I love to people watch, so in between the reading, sitting still and praying, I glance at people – observe their nuisances, notice their idiosyncrasies and just enjoy looking at God’s creation.
In recent years, I’ve often asked myself why I enjoy this practice so much. I think it is because I have built, by design, a very busy life for myself. I think it is directly related to that old saying that the “idle mind is the workshop of the devil.” I decided years ago that I would never have an idle mind. So I have made “busyness” a part of my day – writing, reading, speaking engagements, teaching, working, and the list goes on. So whenever I find a small piece of time – whether it’s 15 minutes or 30 minutes to simply wait in my car for the next event, I find it so relaxing and refreshing.
Please note that busyness of not of God. Sometimes we busy ourselves - doing the wrong things with the wrong people. We often busy ourselves to avoid dealing with life in general. I have been known to fill up my schedule with the mundane to avoid the necessary things and tasks that I abhor. Our women’s Bible study leader says, “If satan, can’t make us bad, he will make us busy!” So be careful as you busy yourselves. (I am talking to myself mainly).
To steal away is an idiom that means to leave quietly without being noticed. In Luke 5:16, I find it interesting that Jesus, the savior, the author of the universe, the lover of my soul, the Christ – the anointed one, the God of creation would take time to withdraw to himself. Various Bible translations say different things – some say he withdrew to lonely places, desolate or deserted places. The translations also note that He withdrew, retired, and slipped away to these places. As Jesus’ ministry grew, he took more time for silence and solitude with the Father in prayer.
As busy women – wives, moms, sisters, aunties, daughters, professionals, teachers and the list goes on, we need to follow the example of Jesus and withdraw to our secret places of solitude and silence. Maybe your secret place is the laundry room, or the back yard or the garage or the small seconds you have for yourself in the bathroom. As your ministry – as your territory is enlarged, so should your practice of stealing away grow. In those moments of solitude and silence, we breathe deeply and encounter the lover of our souls, who longs for those moments with us, just as much as we need those moments with Him.
Today, promise yourself time to steal away; to find time to sneak away to talk to the Father. Follow the example of Jesus, take a breather from all of the cares of the world – the piles of laundry, the unpaid bills, the active kids, the grocery shopping and all the to-do lists that you’ve created and not followed. It doesn’t have to be a vacation with all the works, but merely a drive down to Target, a slow walk through the shoe store, a walk in the park. You can take 15 minutes in a bathroom, car, board room, wherever you can find solitude and steal away for a talk with your Heavenly Father. He’s waiting to hear from you and you’ll be glad you spent time with Him!
Don’t forget to live in the RED – under the covering of the blood and the forgiveness of SIN!
Luke 15:17 … and when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Have you ever been somewhere you know you didn’t need to be and then you remembered who you were and whose you were and decided to go home? As a child, my mom used to tell me she had eyes all over the city and I believed her. But one or two times, I found myself in a situation or with people that I knew that I had no business with and that my mother would not approve of at all.
The prodigal son is such a thematic story about grace, forgiveness and love. A son – the younger son, decides he wants his inheritance NOW. Once he gets his wealth, he decides to go on a journey and soon wastes all of his inheritance quickly with fast living. Poor and desolate, he finds work for a man taking care of his pigs and is so desperate that he wants the pigs’ food. I love verse 17… “and when he came to himself”. He had an awakening and remembered who he was while tending to the pigs.
You remember in the Lion King when Simba had run away from his homeland because his uncle, Scar, made him believe that he was guilty of killing his father? Simba, the son of the mighty King Mufasa was out and about running around like he was a regular everyday commoner, a common joe and not the prince. Sound familiar? We often forget we are of a royal priesthood, a peculiar people and we walk around acting common. However, Rafiki, showed up and helped Simba find his way back home. After a little cajoling, Simba “came to himself” and decided to return home. He remembered who he was. He was Mufasa’s son, the heir to the throne, the savior of the pride, the mighty successor who would save his people.
Listen, girlfriend, sister-girl, it’s time to come to yourself. It’s time to remember who you are and whose you are! So what, you had a baby out of wedlock? And that man that you gave your heart to, broke it? Ok, now what? Who cares that your marriage is falling apart? Hey sis, that addiction to pills is not who you are! Hey ma’am! Alcoholism doesn’t look good on the King’s daughter. Drug abuse doesn’t go well for the child of the Most High. It’s time to come to yourself and remember who and whose you are! I know! I get it! I do; life has been hard; it’s knocked you down. You’re ridden with guilt and depression. I get it, but it’s time to come home.
Did you read the end of the story? The son came to himself – remembered who his daddy was, got himself together and made his way back home. I can imagine the scene as he walked home thinking of the words he would say to make his dad forgive him for taking his inheritance and throwing it away. “Dad, I’m sorry, I was foolish. Will you forgive me? Dad, I know you have denounced me as a son, I am content with just being one of your servants”. I am sure his heart was racing a mile a minute as he turned the last corner heading home. Rejection! Fear! They were probably walking hand and hand with him. What would his father say? What would his brother say? What would the others say?
But oh the scene! The father saw him in the distance and began to RUN to him. And when he made it to him, he fell at his feet and kissed him. The son tried to explain and apologize and the father simply said… Welcome Home and then said to his servants, “bring the best robe, shoes and put a ring on his hand; and bring the fatted calf.”
Then they ate, drank, and were merry. But, the oldest son heard the commotion and came in angry! You mean to tell me that this joker squandered his wealth and left us here and you are throwing him a party and I have been here all the time! But the Father said, you are mine and always with me, but this is my son who was dead and is now alive, who was lost and is now found.
As you make your way home, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not deserving of our Father’s unconditional, everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3) love.
I love this story! This is the heart of God. He is waiting for you to come home. There is nothing too terrible that you have done or are doing that will make Him turn you away. Just as the father in the Biblical account did, our Heavenly Father wants to RUN to you, bring you His choice blessings, throw a feast for you and have a praise and worship service like none other. He’s waiting with open arms, waiting for you to come to yourself and remember that you are the child of the Most High God, El-Elyon. Come home! He’s waiting. You are loved and forgiven.
My Appointed Time
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
Did you know that I was supposed to be married when I was 30? No?! Apparently, my husband didn’t either because, he still hasn’t found me. I feel like he is lost or maybe he saw the wrong girl first and took a chance on her. I had a beautiful fall and small courthouse wedding in mind and then a reception that was more like a family reunion with people galore – eating, drinking and being merry!
Did you know that I was supposed to have three boys by the time I was 36? Their names were to be Jordan, Joshua, and Jaylin. That way my husband and I could enjoy a few years of marriage alone first, then usher in the joy of parenthood. No? You didn’t know that either?
None of those things happened and like many when we don’t get our way, we think of alternate plans. Sarah took matters into her own hands by telling Abraham to sleep with their servant, Hagar. Hagar then got pregnant and bore a son to Abraham named Ishmael - who by the way was not the son of promise that God would give to Abraham and Sarah. Unlike Sarah, I didn’t involve anyone in my plan of action, I simply switched gears - went back to school, started a non-profit, and lived life as it came. For once in my life, I threw out my planner, full of appointments and schedules and surrendered to God, my will for His will.
What I am now realizing as I grow older is that there is an appointed time for EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to sow and a time to reap (Ecclesiastes 3). But God owns that time. When we put limits and time constraints on our life, we handicap God. We take away His ability to do the impossible because we lose faith or interfere with His plans. Not that it stops God’s plans for us, because what He has destined for you is for you! I had a friend who literally prayed for a wife for two weeks. Two whole weeks!! When she didn’t appear in those two weeks, he stopped praying for her and said that God must not have wanted him to have a wife. Really? Is that your final answer?
Many times, when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the time that we have allotted, we give up hope. We lose heart and like Sarah we interfere with God’s business. Believe or not, the Bible says ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7), but you notice how the Bible doesn’t give the time frame for when you will receive the blessing? It doesn’t say on the second knock the door will be opened or the third time you ask it will be given to you.
God has perfect timing. I remind myself of that often. No husband yet? It will come at the appointed time. No degree yet? It’s coming at the appointed time? No house yet? It has an appointed time? No car, finances, job, etc. yet? It will come at the appointed time. Habakkuk 2:3 says “for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. God is a promise-keeper. He doesn't renege on His promises. If He said it will happen, then it will happen.
So while you are waiting for your appointed time, what should you do? You should be working. Work while it is day; when night comes, no man can work (John 9:4). You should open that business, write that book, sing those songs, mentor that child. Live Life! Do all the things that God has placed in your heart to do. Every desire and every dream that He has given you, should be pursued. Have you noticed that when Boaz found Ruth, she was working in his fields (Ruth 2)? She wasn’t sitting still twiddling her thumbs. When Abraham’s servant found Rebekah she was watering the flock of camels (Genesis 24:15). Be about your Father’s business as you wait on your Appointed Time.
Keep the faith and keep working. God still has appointed times and they are not in your hands. Wait in the RED – Loved and Forgiven!
So Sarah laughed to herself and thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I have now this pleasure?”
Have you ever heard something so ridiculous that you laughed? Something so absolutely ludicrous that you threw your head back and laughed? I am sure you have. Like you and I, Sarah was told something so utterly ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh! Sarah was 90 years old when God came to her and promised her that she would be a mother. What?! I believe my reaction would have been the same as Sarah’s reaction. I would have laughed as well. How ridiculous does it sound that a 90-year-old woman would give birth? Sarah laughed out of a notion of utter ridiculousness. She laughed at the “impossible”.
Often times God will give us a vision, a dream or a promise and we and maybe sometimes others will laugh at the idea, because it seems so impossible. God often gives us visions and dreams that don’t match our “right now”. He grants us grace to dream bigger than our reality will allow us to think or dream. Sarah’s right now was her age. She was 90 years old when God told her that in a year she would have a baby. What’s your “right now”? Maybe it’s a dead end job or a broken relationship or a lack of finances. Whatever your “right now” is, know this – God isn’t worried about your “right now” and He doesn’t take all day to do anything.
In my junior year of college, I was in desperate need of a computer. I had a simple, yet cherished word processer that was near and dear to me, but as a business major, I was competing with people with $2,000 Apple Macs. Trying to find a vacant computer in the library each day was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So I resolved that I would compete by getting up each day at 2am and working until 6am. Surely the library would be empty by this time.
My mother had a fit. She did not like the idea that I was out around the campus that time of the morning. But with diligence, I got my work done and competed with my classmates with those high-powered computers. I kept praying about how I would come up with the money to buy a computer, but being on scholarship with limited work study hours, I didn’t see a way to get a computer.
I was like Sarah I just laughed. My right now was my finances. I had no way of even buying a bad habit because my pockets were so empty. However, one day while at home, I stumbled across an ad in an Essence or Ebony Magazine. At the end of the ad, there were 5 questions. If you answered them correctly, they would send you a computer. Too good to be true right? Like Sarah, I laughed! But you know what? I sent in that form and about 6 weeks after answering that ad, a brand new computer and printer showed up at my house. My mom and my grandmom were in awe; I was overwhelmed. Had God really heard my impossible prayer? Had he answered in the most “ridiculous” way? My Daddy-God had come through.
I can’t imagine the joy that Sarah felt at having a son in her old age, but if it was anything like the joy I felt when that computer arrived, it was one of the most exciting and overwhelming days of my life. In verse 14 of Genesis chapter 18, God asks, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord”? I now know, there is absolutely NO. THING. too hard for God!
The message… God always gets the last laugh. Trust him and Believe His promises. Don’t forget to laugh and live in the RED!