I was sitting at church today, listening, taking notes, trying to keep my mind from aimlessly wondering, like it wants to every once in a while. (As a side note, I am a doodle, note taker queen. I have to write down what I'm hearing in order to absorb what I'm learning.) Anyway, all of a sudden a phrase grabbed me...
"When nothing seems right, say to yourself the phrase 'I'm forgiven.' Those two words are life changing."
Wow! My listening ears became alert and my pen started writing double time...I was not going to miss this. The preacher already had my attention and I wanted to hear more.
The message ended up being about Paul. The Sunday School story of how he persecuted followers of Christ, only to be transformed into one of the greatest missionaries, after a meeting one on one with the Lord. Awesome story, but nothing I hadn't heard before. Well, that is until our speaker asked these questions:
"When do you think Paul truly realized his own forgiveness? How did he manage to let go of his past and forgive himself?"
How many times do we bring up past hurts and failures? How many times do we let the past decide our future? How many times do we cry to God "I'm not worthy!"?
Me? Too many times to count. There have been too many times I have laughed at God and said:
"You have got to be kidding me?!!!"
" Do you know who I am?"
"What I have done?"
"You couldn't possibly use me in that situation!"
Yet, if you really take the time to read Paul's story, then you realize what true grace is all about and you come to an understanding that if God can use Paul, He can use you too.
So many times I think we who call ourselves followers of Christ, forget where we came from, taking forgranted what a beautiful gift we have been given. We sometimes need to remember the past so we can understand and be reminded of what true grace is. And then once we realize that gift, let it all go, so we can be an empty vessel to be used for His glory.
I once heard that if you have nothing else to be thankful for, you can always write down "I'm still breathing." I try to keep a "thank you" journal everyday. I have been for years. It is the best way I know to keep afloat during those hard moments. I can't tell you how many times one of my "at least five blessings" has been "I'm breathing." But, I think I have a new phrase. One to lift the lowliest of spirits. It changes one's attitude. It makes me tingle from head to toe. I am going to even share it with you, for it is that special...
If you don't smile after saying that, then you and I need to have a talk.
If you have some time today, you might want to read Paul's story in Acts 9. It is jam packed with soul searching drama and total forgiveness...
"But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument...'" Acts 9:15