Helping women live victorious lives in Christ

Whenever I write, I am writing from my own experiences, and this post is no different. My hope is that when I write, I can bless someone else who may be going through the same thing that I am (or have).

disappointment

Disappointment is a feeling that at some time or another we all experience. We may be disappointed that our favorite sport team didn’t win like we thought they would, or we may feel disappointed when we’re planning a trip to the beach, but the weather forecast calls for rain all day. At the moment, these turn of events negatively affect us, but soon we’re over it and on to the next thing….we continue to root for our favorite team (or change teams) or we change our plans and decide to hit the beach another day. These are what most people would consider minor, but what about those disappointments that are not so minor?

Here are a few examples of the kind of disappointments I’m talking about: the person we planned to spend the rest of our lives with decides he or she no longer wants to be married to us; one of our children didn’t turn out the way we raised them to; the life that we envisioned growing up is not what we’re currently experiencing, and there seems to be no hope for things turning around in our favor. This list can go on, but you get my point. We just don’t ‘get over’ these major disappointments in our lives, but we have to somehow find a way to deal with them. If we don’t what will become of our lives? Will we be in a perpetual state of misery because things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to?

I don’t believe God wants us to live this way. Just like the title of this site states, I believe God wants us to have a victorious journey. And it’s through Him (and only Him) that we can experience this.

So, how do we deal with disappointment? We can first cry out to God and be honest about how we feel. It’s ok to ask questions and wonder why circumstances didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, planned and prayed. And certainly, if God created and maintains the universe, then He can handle our questions. Check out the example of David in the Psalms: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6 NIV) What a blessing it is to know that in our distress we can call out to the Lord, and not only that, we can rest assured that he does hear us. Our cries are not falling on deaf ears!

We can also go to the Word of God to remind ourselves of God’s promises to us. Look at what Peter writes to the early church (this also applies to us): “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”(2 Peter 1:4, NIV) One of the key words in this passage (in my opinion is ‘knowledge.’ We have everything we need for a godly life through the knowledge of God, and we obtain that knowledge from the Word of God (remember this scripture: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”? Romans 10:17)

Lastly, we should trust God and His word. When we are in the throes of experiencing disappointment, this is when our faith comes in. We’ve read the word, we’ve prayed, and now we must trust that God knows exactly what he’s doing. Even if things never change, if we never receive the desire of our heart, we can rest assured that God said he would “never leave us nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5b) This scripture in particular has helped me navigate through disappointment, and it helps remind that God really does have a plan for my life, and that’s it’s in His hands to make it come to pass.

This post is a bit longer than I would normally write, but it’s particularly relevant to me. Although the idea of this topic came to me months ago, it’s very interesting to know that I’ve only been led to write it today, 2 days after Mother’s Day Not having had the experience of motherhood, this particular Mother’s Day was very difficult for me. So again, I’m writing this, not as just glib points, but real life experiences. I may never receive the desire of my heart in this area, but I’m TRUSTING that God’s plan for my life is perfect and that He will not leave me or forsake me.

I’m Already Complete

A dream I had this morning left me feeling odd.  In this dream, I was searching for something that would bring me peace and contentment.    I was literally trying everything I could to find this desired state, and finally, after munch struggle, I found it.  It was a little girl.  And when I found this little girl, I knew she was what I’d been looking for, and I began to release all the other things I’d tried in search of satisfaction. 

Searching

Well, who among us can’t relate to searching for something that seems to elude us, but we believe that once we get it, it will completely fill and satisfy us.  It could be that career, that relationship, that fortune, that house…it could be any number of things.  We think that if we just get that thing, all will be well with us and the world.  But time and time again, we’ve been disappointed and discouraged.  If we finally receive the thing we believe is the panacea for the lack of peace in our lives, we soon come to realize that it isn’t!  So we go on a search for the next thing, and the pattern repeats itself.

I believe the message from that dream is that Jesus is the One thing that can fully complete us. Colossians 2:10 (KJV) says “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”  The NIV says that “in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”    According to Clarke’s Commentary on this verse, “the Colossians were empty – spoiled and deprived of every good, while following the empty philosophy and groundless traditions of Jewish and Gentile teachers; but since they had received Christ Jesus they were filled with him.”  Doesn’t that sound like us?  We are empty and trying to fill ourselves with any and everything, only to fall short every time.  In Jesus, we find our completion, contentment, and peace.

So what does that mean?  Do we stop striving for the dreams and goals we may have?  Absolutely not!  But we put those goals and dreams in their proper perspective.  They are designed to give us some level of satisfaction and fulfillment, but they are not meant to complete us.  Only Jesus can fill that space each of us has inside.  And when we’re feeling empty and alone, we should seek Him out in prayer, Bible reading, meditation or quiet time (instead of trying to fill that space ourselves). And when we will draw closer to him, James tells us that Jesus will draw closer to us (James 4:8). 

So today, I’m resting in the truth that I am already complete in Christ. I’m believing what Jesus said about seeking Him first and the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33) And I’ll strive to press into Him to remind myself that He is my source of peace and contentment.  Will you do the same?

At many church services and worship experiences, we are admonished to pray.  We go to prayer meetings where we devote a special time for giving praise and adoration to God, and for making intercession on behalf of those in need.  But I’m sure many of you can relate to the fact that we sometimes feel inadequate when it comes to our personal prayer lives.  I feel this way sometimes too.  We offer up excuses as to why we’re not praying as much as we should…but what can we do to get past the excuses?

Prayer

We sometimes say “my schedule is so busy…work, family, church activities…when am I supposed to get it done?”  There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything on our to-do lists, from work to our businesses to school work to volunteer activities…the list can go on! 

This post is not meant to beat anyone (or myself up), but is meant to encourage.  I want you to see (and I want to remind myself) that even in our busy lives, we can communicate with God on a regular basis. Please don’t see prayer as something to be checked off a list (the planner in me has a tendency to do that sometimes), but as an opportunity to be in the presence of God, no matter where we may be physically.

Psalm 55:17 says that “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”  Do they mean that literally?  Are we supposed to pray every morning, every afternoon and every evening?    Let’s not get legalistic here….if we put too much focus on the morning, noon and evening thing, we’re becoming more religious and not spiritual.  I agree with what Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says about this verse: “And now, though we are not tied down to these exact and precise times of prayer, yet this teaches us that we ought to pray frequently and constantly, and that a day should not pass without it…”  At some point in our day, we should offer a prayer to God, whether it’s a prayer of thanksgiving, confession, adoration or petition.

Do you have a commute to work?  Instead of listening to the comedian on the radio or the latest hits, take time to pray during your commute (PLEASE don’t close your eyes lol).  Or do you workout regularly?  How about while you’re on the treadmill or walking in your neighborhood?  How about when you’re preparing dinner for the family? I could go on with ideas on when we can pray, but I think you get the picture.

So what if the issue with your prayer life is the fact that you feel inadequate, not with your time, but with how to pray and what to say?  Let me help you with this verse from Romans:  “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)  And what about this verse: “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34).  These verses tell me that we have help! (Hallelujah) We have Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf when we pray.  So since we have help, we shouldn’t worry about how to pray and what to say.  We should just talk to God with a sincere and open heart, knowing that two persons of the Trinity have our back in prayer.

I hope this brief message helps you understand that we can have a vibrant and meaningful prayer life.  Don’t beat yourself about what you haven’t done in the past.  Remember some of the benefits of praying to the Father who hears and answers us: we have a deeper relationship with Him, our faith grows stronger, and we can live more fruitful lives for Him.  Keep pressing in prayer and see what God does in your life! 

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27

 

Hurricane image

 

I live in West Central Florida, and from June 1 to November 30, we have to contend with hurricane season. As I write this, we’re about 6 weeks into the season.  Things have been quiet so far, but that could change at any moment.  Having been born and raised in New Orleans and now living in Florida, hurricane season is a part of life.  What can this weather phenomena teach Christians?  I’m glad you asked!

 

We know it’s possible that a storm will come

There are some years when the season is a quiet one, while other years, it’s crazy! But we know, based on scientific evidence, that a storm will come! In 2004, we dealt with 4 hurricanes back to back here in Florida that took just about the same path (right up the middle of the state).  Just as soon as we breathed a sigh of relief, there was another one on the way that we had to brace ourselves for.  It’s a proven fact that, because of the warmth of the water and other factors, these storms WILL form in the Gulf of Mexico and travel around the states surrounding the gulf, or to the states bordering the east coast of the United States.

Just like we know hurricanes will come, we Christians also know that the storms of life will come. James 1:2 tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (NIV, emphasis added)  James doesn’t say “if” trials come, but “when” they come.  Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (KJV).  Just like we shouldn’t think it strange that a tropical storm or hurricane will form in the Gulf from June to November, we as Christians should not be surprised that storms and trials come in our lives.  So, if we know storms and trials are coming…

 

We need to be prepared for when a storm comes

During hurricane season, there are several ways to find out how to prepare for a storm.  The local city and county governments publish brochures and update their emergency preparedness websites, local TV stations air news specials, and local newspapers have entire sections dedicated to hurricane preparedness. When the storm hits, we know what to do (or we should know what to do), and there should be no excuse for lack of preparedness.  Unlike sections of the country that deal with tornados, when facing hurricanes, we have advanced warning.  We have the resources at our disposal to get ready, so we can prepare ourselves as best we can.

Christians also have advanced warning of impending storms (we already know that they will eventually come).  And we’ve been given instructions on how to get ready.  What are those instructions?  According to Jesus, we are to hear his words and put them into practice. As we read and hear the Word of God, we become more assured of the promises He’s made to us.  Our faith is growing as we study and meditate on his word, and we are becoming like “a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24, NIV)  Although we don’t know the exact circumstances, we are shoring ourselves up for what will come.

 

We have an assurance that, despite the storm, all will be well

When a tropical storm or hurricane comes, there will be some after effects or consequences.  There could be flooding, downed power lines, interrupted phone service, and damage to our homes.  But if we’ve prepared properly, we’ve secured a generator, we’ve evacuated to a safer location, or we’ve stocked non-perishable food and water to have on hand until the comforts of home are restored.  We have what we need to face the consequences of the storm, and we know that eventually, things will get back to normal.

I’m sure you can see the parallel for the Christian!  J  Look what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:9a: “Now if [all these things are true, then be sure] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly out of temptations and trials.” (AMP)  Praise God, He know how to rescue us! Also, look at Jesus’ words to us: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matt 7:25, NIV)  Despite the rain, wind, and streams, the house that was built on the rock remained, while the house that was built on sand fell.  The house on the rock remained because it was built on a solid foundation.  Rock is far more stable than sand, right?

Don’t be caught unawares, we know that a storm will come.  It’s our responsibility to prepare for impending storms when things are going well, not when the storm is barreling down on us.  And as we prepare for impending tests and trials, and build our spiritual house on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, we are assured that we will be able to withstand the storms of life, because God has promised that we wouldd.

A storm is coming…are you ready?

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

There are some areas of my life that are currently in a state of flux and transition.  Things that were sure and stable have become unstable and iffy.  And because of these changes, I came to a crossroads where I needed to make some major decisions.

Rebellious child

So, as all Christians do (or should do), I began to pray and ask God for direction. And just as He promised in 1 John 5:14-15, he began to respond and answer my petitions. The first time I heard the answer regarding one specific situation, my response was “ummm…really?” That answer was NOT AT ALL what I was expecting, and it wasn’t something that I had a desire to do! So I proceeded to ignore that answer and kept praying.

Well, God is certainly a persistent God!  As I continued to pray, the same answer kept coming, but from different sources…multiple people who had not spoken with one another, passage of Scripture, and just a still, small voice that continued to speak to me.  These different sources served as confirmation of the original message, but also reminded me that God will not back down when I say no! I will admit, I waited a few months before heeding the voice of the Lord, but finally I stepped forward in obedience.

Ponder this quote from Henry Blackaby, author of several works, including Experiencing God:

The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to equip you for what you’re not going to do, so if you’re in rebellion against Jesus and refusing His right to be Lord, He doesn’t need to send the Holy Spirit to equip you for service. And, tragically, you miss out on the joy that He brings. 

So let the Holy Spirit deal with anything that’s keeping you from obeying Christ

As hard as it is to admit, for that time I did not obey the voice of God I was in rebellion! Listen to what Samuel said to Saul when confronting him about his disobedience:

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Witchcraft???  Wow!  Ok, God, I hear you!  The good news is, once I put aside my will and took that step of obedience (and it was a hard one for me), I immediately felt a sense of contentment and peace.  I knew this was what God wanted and I began to rest in Him, knowing that He controls the outcome of my obedience.  Even though I have no idea what God is going to do as a result of this leap of faith, I’m trusting that He knows best (and He does, since He’s omniscient, and His ways and thoughts are higher than mine).

So, I’ve asked God to forgive me for my rebellious spirit, and I’m moving forward. And I’m waiting in great expectation for what God is going to do in my life.  Stay tuned…I sure am!

 

When we interpret something, we try to gain some understanding of that thing.  We look at the facts, we may note what information we don’t have, and from there we draw a conclusion.  That conclusion will help us understand what’s going on in a particular situation or with a particular thing. Interpretation helps us to make sense of something that initially may be unclear or confusing to us.

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Two different people can look at the same situation and interpret things completely differently. Take the example of a jury deliberating a case.  They are presented with the same set of facts.  Five of the six jurors come to the same conclusion, but one doesn’t see things the same way. It’s all in the interpretation.

Let’s look at the biblical character Joseph.  The facts of his life are:  his brothers were jealous and wanted to kill him, they threw him into a pit, and then sold him into bondage, he was later imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and was left to languish in jail (and forgotten by someone who promised to help him). In total, Joseph experienced challenges for about 17 years of his short life.

How do you think he interpreted these facts?  The Word of God can help us answer that question.

Genesis 39:2 – And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Genesis 39:21 – But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Based on these scriptures, I believe that Joseph trusted God in his circumstances.  Genesis never says that Joseph was bitter and angry.  It never says he mistreated those under whom he worked.  The Bible says that Joseph prospered, and received mercy from God, and was granted favor from his superiors.  I believe Joseph chose to interpret his circumstances in a positive light instead of a negative one, and this is reflected in the mercy, favor and prosperity he received.

What about you?  How do you see our challenges?  You can interpret them in a negative light (“I’ll never amount to anything” “I keep failing”), or you can stand on the word of God and see them from a different perspective.  Scriptures tells us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  That means, no matter how bad your circumstances may seem right now, they are being orchestrated for our good and for our benefit by an omnipotent, omniscient God.  The facts are the same, but it’s all in the interpretation.

It’s important to note that we can choose our interpretation!  We can decide to listen to Satan and his lies, or we can focus on the truth of God’s word.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We have free will to interpret our trials one way or another.

Today, I encourage you to ask God to help you see your circumstances from His perspective, gaining His interpretation of what’s happening.  How we see things will impact how we live our lives.  God says we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), and we can only live as a conqueror based on how we view our lives.  After all, it’s all in the interpretation.

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As I write this, we are about halfway through the first month of the new year.  Our lives have gotten back to normal after the sometimes chaotic days of the holiday season.  The euphoria of the Christmas and New Year celebrations has waned, and the newness of the new year is probably beginning to wear off for many people.  Some of us are now starting to come to the realization that, although we are in a new year, some things are still the same.  They are still looking for a job, their marriages are still in trouble, or their finances are still lacking. 

As I think about new things, the book of Isaiah comes to mind.  When the prophet Isaiah is writing, the Israelites are in a very sinful state.  Isaiah confronts them about their sin, and warns them of coming judgment against them.  At the same time, he urges them to repent and turn back to God.  Some of his words in the earlier parts of the book are not very hopeful, where he predicts their destruction (which will happen at the hands of the Babylonians). However, the verses that jump out at me as I think about the new year are verses 18 and 19 from chapter 43. 

 18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

To me, those verses have ‘hope’ written all over them!  God is offering consolation and hope to the Israelites that, although they will have to go through something (exile), He will deliver them.  They will face difficulties, but ultimately, they will get through them and will be able to give God glory for their deliverance.   The application to our lives is very simple.  God never said that when our man-made time system (our calendar) changed from one division of time (a year) to another, that things would automatically be different.  He never said that our circumstances would change instantaneously (we do know, however, that He has the power to do it if He so desired).  But God is giving us hope, just like He gave the Israelites hope, that He WILL do a new thing, and that is SHALL spring forth!  We are to expect our new thing!!  We are to anticipate our new thing with joy!  Why? Because He said he would do it!  And God’s word is the only word that we can bet everything on.  We should KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that our new thing will happen, because this promise is coming from the One who never breaks a promise.  This assurance is coming from the One whose word is true and faithful.

So what do we do in the meantime? We hold on to our hope while we wait for our new thing, we trust the One who made the promise to deliver our new thing, and we wait with great expectation and joy.

What new thing are you anticipating today?  Instead of losing hope because the days are the new year are passing by and nothing has happened, exercise your faith, be hopeful, and with joy praise God for the new thing He’s going to accomplish in your life.  It WILL spring forth!

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Mary

This Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary, the mother of our Savior. What must have gone through her mind when the angel Gabriel visited her? What can we learn from this teenage girl whom God gave such a tremendous responsibility?

Mary willingly said yes to God’s assignment
When we read the dialogue between Mary and Gabriel, there is no hesitation on Mary’s part. She does wonder how a virgin will conceive and give birth, but she doesn’t doubt that it can be accomplished. We don’t see her asking Gabriel to give her a few days to think and pray about it, or to talk to other people to get their opinions. In essence, she says, “whatever you say, I’ll do.” How many of us can step right into God’s assignment for you with full trust and no hesitation?

Mary sacrificed her own comfort and security for a greater cause
At the time of this life-changing encounter with Gabriel, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They were practically married, so I’m sure you can understand the excitement and anticipation she felt preparing to be Joseph’s wife.  In the midst of this special time of her life, Gabriel comes and changes everything! She’s going to be pregnant outside of wedlock, and it wouldn’t be Joseph’s baby! Her fairy-tale betrothal and marriage were quickly fading away, and she could be faced with all the law prescribed for a fornicator. Despite this, she still says “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary faced difficulties throughout her life
Being the mother of our Lord had to come with some challenges. Based on the message she received from Gabriel, she realized that she was the vessel through which the Messiah would come. She also recognized that Jesus would not be an average son. I can imagine she asked these questions in her heart: Would he get married? Will I have the blessing of grandchildren through him? Would he be there for me in my old age? Every mother wants her child to live a long life, and does not want to even consider the thought of his life being cut short, but that would not be the case for Mary with her first born.  As she faced difficulties and uncertainties in her life, Mary serves as an example for all mothers and all women.

What were the results of Mary’s sacrifice? Because Mary said yes, because she was willing to sacrifice her own comfort and security, we have access to eternal life through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Her ruined betrothal and wedding and her public humiliation afforded us the opportunity to be reconciled back to God. She willingly accepted a difficult and uncertain life so that she could be used mightily by God. While we do not worship her, we honor her and are grateful to her for what she chose to do.

Is God calling you to do a hard thing? How could it benefit others? Like Mary, are you willing to sacrifice your goals and dreams to be fully yielded to God’s will?

 

One Day at a Time

 

I am a planner. I enjoy having a detailed outline of what I want to accomplish for any given day or week. I tend to look weeks and months ahead and have a general idea of where I’m going. Running two businesses, being involved in church and civic activities and going back to school necessitates that I use my time wisely so that I can do everything that needs to get done. However, I’m in a season of life right now where my planning skills really cannot be used. I’m waiting for God to resolve certain things in my life, and until He provides these answers, I cannot do my usual planning and outlining. How do I feel about this? What is God trying to teach me in this season of no clear direction?

To answer the first question, I feel unnerved and uncomfortable. I want to be able to say with some certainty that I’ll be able to participate in such-and-such activity in a couple of months, but right now I just can’t do that. I’m in a position right now where I can’t say with any clarity what will be happening in my life even over the next couple of weeks. I’ve never been in this position before and frankly, I don’t like it!

Look at what the word of God says in James chapter 4, starting at verse 13:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Who are we to say what we will do next week, next month or next year? Who’s sovereign, us or God? James says our lives are but a vapor. So because of that, when we make plans, we make them in light of what God says and not in light of what we say or think. We preface our plans with “if it’s the Lord’s will,” keeping in mind that He can do whatever He wants to do (or not). And we rest in the fact that even though we don’t have all the answers and can’t see a clear path, we trust the One who can see the end from the beginning. We trust God’s sovereignty and His omniscience. We believe in His omnipresence and His omnipotence. That is what God is trying to teach me in this time…to rest in Him, to truly abide in Him.

So, right now I’m working on putting down my planner’s notebook, pen, and calendar. I’m asking God to help me be content in this suspended state I find myself in. And I’m being reminded that God is still God, even in the midst of questions with no answers. And I am, literally, taking life one day at a time.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

 

As I begin write this, the entire world is mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela. After months of illness, Mr. Mandela has passed away at age 95. News outlets show picture after picture of Mr. Mandela from his days as an activist against the apartheid regime, to his lengthy imprisonment, to his release from prison in 1990, to the impact he had a president of South Africa, and finally to his days as an elder statesman. Even in old age and illness, there was still something about this man that draws people to him. There was a glow, a light that emanates from his very soul. Where does someone who has suffered immeasurable injustice, not only against him, but all who are like him, get this light, the glow? What is its source?

The answer I believe is the freedom found in forgiveness. Mr. Mandela was someone who chose to forgive those who for decades have wronged him.  He did not seek retribution, and encouraged others to live the same way.  He released those who persecuted him.  And this release brought about his freedom, even while he was still physically in bondage.

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Robbins Island where he was imprisoned for 27 years, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be subjected to such harsh treatment for about a third of his life, the prime years of his life.  But Mr. Mandela made the conscious decision to forgive, the process of which is not easy, and did not allow anger and bitterness to entrap him.  Anger and bitterness are traps that keep one bound and unable to live fully, traps of the enemy of our souls – Satan, traps that the enemy tries to use to prevent you from walking into the calling on your life. 

How could Mr. Mandela display such a beautiful smile, having experienced such a difficult life? How do 95 year old eyes still twinkle? How can joy and peace emanate from someone who has experienced trials many of us will never have to encounter?  Freedom allows joy and peace to shine through a person, without that person having to even say a word. And forgiveness is what brings about this freedom.

The Bible instructs us to forgive as God has forgiven you.  If you have unforgiveness in your heart, go to God’s word and learn what He expects of us regarding forgiveness (Matthew chapter 6:14-15 and Colossians 3:13 are just a few scriptures).  In her book “The Power of Forgiveness,” Joyce Meyer says, “Wounded emotions can become a prison that locks us into our pain and keep others out.” Confess the sin of unforgiveness, then ask God to give you the freedom that comes with forgiveness.  He is standing ready to release you today!  He will do it!