Live life until you die. That might sound like a great little Pinterest phrase (it might be, I haven’t checked) but it’s what must be done.
Live or Die. In part 1, I talked about the unfairness of life. I said, “Just keep swimming”. But how can that translate from a blue fish’s cute saying to real life?
I don’t like sharing personal experiences because they make me feel weak. They make me feel like a failure. But the truth is that sometimes I am weak, I am a failure. I am learning that it is in these weaknesses and failures that I realize my need for Jesus. I am also learning that sharing these weaknesses shines light on God’s strength and awesomeness.
In December 2017, I stepped forward to let my husband know that I had been unfaithful in our commitment to each other. Although I had already asked God for forgiveness and changed my actions, I still lived under the weight of the lie. The lie that my husband knew nothing about. The weight was so unbearable that I decided to speak the truth and accept whatever that might bring. I had sinned, there was no way to sugar coated it. It was time to own it. I told my husband the truth. I had broken his trust and I was willing to accept whatever that meant for our future. If he could no longer love me, I would accept that, because I felt like I deserved it. I hated myself for what I had done.
I am so very thankful that my husband decided to trust God and fight for our marriage.
Needless to say, 2018 had a rough start. We were doing our best to stand on God, but it often felt more like standing on the deck of that sailboat in the movie Adrift waiting for the next huge wave to crash down and beat us. The year started out with one beating after another. We went to counseling and began working through our marriage. We were about to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary, how on earth did we find ourselves staring at it (our marriage) on a table unresponsive and dead? Seriously, that is what it felt like. Like maybe the last thirteen years of our lives was all a lie and huge failure. But that wasn’t the truth.
The truth was that we had a lot of good memories and good times throughout our marriage. We had a lot of love. The truth was that we had allowed things into our marriage that tainted God’s original design for it. Things like pornography, adultery, and those “innocent” white lies. Over time, these things corrupted our marriage like a virus on a computer. The system was no longer operating as it was intended to.
At the beginning of the year, I probably would have said that God was working on our hearts to revive our marriage. To restore it. But honestly that is not the truth. At the beginning of the year, we were working to revive our marriage. God just wanted to make it new. The commitment was good but the contents needed to be flushed so He could pour in truth.
2018 was about learning how to “Just keep swimming”. Swimming with God that is.
“Now, everything has been heard, so I give my final advice: Honor God and obey his commands, because this is all people must do. God will judge everything, even what is done in secret, the good and the evil.” Ecclesiastes 12: 13&14 NCV
By the world’s standard, I didn’t have to come clean with my husband. I had already stopped. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. But God, has a higher standard.
By the world’s standard, porn is a normal struggle. My husband could continue to battle it off and on. But God, has a higher standard.
By the world’s standard, it’s ok for a spouse to tell a “little white” lie to spare their mate from pain. Your outfit’s not too tight. You’re fine not going to the gym. Yes, I’m ok with doing this (even though you’re really not). But God, has a higher standard. He doesn’t want us to hurt each other, He wants us to speak truth in love. Love builds trust. Lies destroy trust, even “little white” ones.
Just keep swimming for God. Serving God doesn’t mean you will never be tempted to sin. Serving God doesn’t mean everything will happen just as you “pray” it will happen. Serving God doesn’t mean life will be full of easy choices. It simply means that you are choosing to serve God. No matter what the world’s standard might be, you choose to live by God’s standard. The standard that says, “I might be here on this earth but this is not my home. I answer to a higher standard.”
God, thank you for the lessons that you have provided this past year. Thank you for the truth that has been spoken to us, in us, and through us. Help us to keep swimming for You and with You. Amen
And so, this year comes to a close. How was your year? Are you sad to see it close or excited for it to end? I’ve never been much for New Year resolutions but if I made one this year it would be “Just Keep Swimming”. #Dory
In Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Dory is a fish that is quite forgetful but she has a phrase that is quite fitting, “Just keep swimming.”
Sometimes, just like the ocean, life is calm and peaceful. During those moments, it’s easy to keep swimming. Sometimes, life is a whirlwind. There are rough waters and life-threatening tsunamis. During those moments, it is difficult, maybe even next to impossible to keep swimming. But what is the alternative? Sink.
There are times that I feel sinking would be much easier because life is just not going how I planned it.
“I also saw something else here on earth: The fastest runner does not always win the race, the strongest soldier does not always win the battle, the wisest does not always have food, the smartest does not always become wealthy, and the talented one does not always receive praise. Time and chance happen to everyone.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 NCV
Although King Solomon was a very wise (smart) guy, this book sometimes makes him sound like a wise-guy (smart ass). He gives a lot of advice but you won’t hear much of his advice preached to the masses. It just doesn’t sound like good PR for God. Most of the book sounds more like a mix between the depressed donkey Eeyore and the ‘impatient with stupid teens’ father, Red Foreman, from That 70’s Show.
“Time and chance happen to everyone” What does that mean? That’s a nice way of saying you can’t always get what you want and most usually won’t. Parents who give their kids the best, sometimes end up visiting them in jail. Married couples that work in church ministry, sometimes find themselves in divorce court. A rapper singing about drugs, alcohol, and sex makes (and wastes) thousands of dollars while a single parent struggles with three jobs so their kid can have a better life. Do these scenarios sound like ‘fair’ outcomes?
Life is unpredictable and sometimes unfair. It doesn’t make sense and, as much as we try to have answers, in the end we’ll only find ourselves with more questions.
What should we do? Just keep swimming!
When things aren’t going our way? Don’t give up, look to God. Just keep swimming.
When things are calm and peaceful and everything is going right? Thank God. Just keep swimming.
“When the seventy-two came back, they were very happy and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we used your name!” Luke 10:17 (NCV)
I want to take a moment to reflect on the first three words “And the seventy-two”. When I read this scripture for the first time, (six years ago) my mind was blown. Wait a second, who were these seventy-two people? I knew about the twelve disciples but who was Luke talking about? That question can be answered, to some degree, in Luke 10:1 “After this, the Lord chose seventy-two others and sent them out in pairs ahead of him into every town and place where he planned to go.”
According to this scripture, these seventy-two were like heralds or forerunners. They traveled to the cities that Jesus was planning on visiting. They saw whether the ground was fertile for planting. Maybe a better word for them would be scouts. But the question still remains, who were these seventy-two?
They have no names in the history books, but they were important.
I have found myself asking God, “What’s my purpose?”
Part of me, would like Him to respond with, “Nicole, go do this specific task.”
But honestly, His answer is much easier. His answer is: submit to me.
My name might not get mentioned in history books. A hundred years after I die, I might be completely forgotten. But that’s ok because I am somebody to God. Just like those seventy-two, my life serves a purpose and so does yours. My purpose is fulfilled when I submit to God. When I say, “Here I am, I give you my life every part of it.” When I say this, my purpose is fulfilled. Where? Waiting for my kids in the car line at school, checking out groceries at the store, writing on the floor in the library, or floating down the river in my kayak. God’s purpose for my life is fulfilled through everything I do when I submit my life to Him.
“So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important. The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work. We are God’s workers, working together; you are like God’s farm, God’s house.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9
God, keep this fresh on my mind every day. Rather than seeking a purposeful calling, guide me to seek You. Help me to understand that by submitting to You every day I am fulfilling your purpose for my life. A life that praises you and gives you glory. Amen
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
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