I remember sobbing, I mean snot-on-the-pillow-hiccuping-red-eyes-for-hours kind of crying. It wasn’t just one night or circumstance. But there was one season in particular where it seemed like everyone around me was thumbing their nose at God. Blatantly mocking Him, and often, me, for following Him. They were charting their own path and all I could see was destruction ahead.
But it didn’t happen. The people hurting me, whether they knew it or not they were doing so, seemed to prosper.
Instead, I was passionate for Christ and striving to be like Him. I wanted to be obedient.
And what did I get for it?
- A car accident while in a high risk pregnancy after a season of infertility.
- Job transition
- Financial stresses
- and more.
It took me a long time to understand and surrender my anger over what I thought I was seeing. I’m a “justice girl” and what I’d witnessed wasn’t fair. The people were getting promotions. Dream homes. Vacations. Life seemed to hand them an ez-pass for all their rebellion.
And I struggled.
But once I stopped crying long enough to listen, I studied His word, Bible studies, and got to know Him better where I asked the hard questions. He showed me the things I was frustrated about were just that, things. In my valley, I had experiences. What looked like a cruel mess was preparation. I came out of that season free from a lot of things that weren’t healthy. I transformed into a confident woman of God knowing who I was. My faith is fairly unshakable. I wouldn’t be any of those things without those hard times.
And for the people that I didn’t understand? What looked like prospering was actually withering. In the years that followed the creditors called. The dream homes needed work. When tragedies like 9/11 happened they were the ones calling me, full of fear. There was no peace in them. And I realized those were the consequences. I thought they’d receive holy lightning strikes for the things they’d done and said. But lack of peace and living in fear have to be the worst things to deal with.
I write all that to say in the last few years when I’ve seen people done wrong, I’ve faced rejection or mocking, I’ve been used or watched someone else, all the junk that used to tear me apart, a new phrase came up.
“You’ll know them by their fruit.”
I’ve been around long enough to see people wounded. It stinks. And when they come to me and ask me why does it look like the wounder got off scott-free, I remind them you’ll know them by their fruit. It might take awhile, but for those who aren’t rooted deeply in Christ, the fruit isn’t going to happen. If there’s any growth at all, it’s going to be shriveled and rotten. For those who talk about faith but aren’t walking it, their lack of roots is going to produce some small fruit, too. Trust me. How do I know?
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:1-8, NLT
I’m not perfect, please don’t think I’m looking down on those who did me wrong. My hope is if you’re frustrated because you’re living for Christ and getting the shaft while everyone else seems to be doing just fine, think about the passage above. You’re a beautiful harvest in the making. You will walk in God-confidence and have peace that can’t be bought or manufactured. I wouldn’t trade that season for anything, as hard as it was. I have an intimacy with God that words can’t define. That’s a direct result of pruning and hardship. And I definitely don’t want to trade places with the people who seemed to have it all when they were gunning for me. My prayer is they find the Gardener and surrender themselves to His love and tender care.There will be a day we all have to answer for our choices and motives. How I want to bring forth a glorious harvest. How about you?
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And the alphabet continues. Today bloggers are encouraged to join Patty Wysong with their posts regarding the letter “J”. Don’t forget to link up.
It would be easy to write about myself, given my name is Julie, and a lot of what you’ll read below will reveal a bit about me. The way I thought I’d use the letter is through the word JUST.
JUST CUT IT OUT
I use the word “just” in my fiction writing and my critique partners are amazing at catching it. It’s
just a part of my own speaking vocabulary and I can’t help but insert it. Just when I think I’ve mastered it, they find it once again. I’m learning.
JUST a FEW HUNDRED
When I think of the word JUST, the Bible comes to mind. Curious, I did a search and found that just or a form of just(as in justice/justified) is in the NIV 568 times. When I searched NLT, it was a whopping 966 times. My favorite:
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-10 (in Context) NLT from Biblegateway.
JUST WAIT A MINUTE
My sense for justice, appropriate or not, dates back to childhood. If I sense something is out of alignment and someone’s been dealt an unfair blow, I’m probably going to take issue. I remember a cheerleader teasing a dear friend and I couldn’t take it, even though I was afraid of repercussion, so to do something, I would fill her duck shoes (it was the 80’s) with scrap paper. I know, scandalous.
I’ll be dealing more with justice, mostly injustice, in the months and years to come as my heart expands for people who deserve to be loved and have a voice.
Also, as a kid, I was so mesmerized by the League of Justice comic book characters I tried, ahem, through my college years, to cast a pretend Justice League movie in head. The thought of my favorite super heroes meeting around a table discussing how to keep the world safe? I was all over that.
Our youngest is like me in many ways, but one way we differ, style. I don’t care what I look like (to a point) or about brand names. The only brand name I remember feeling was a must have in my school years was Nike. I remember my mom asking me to please put on make up and do more things like teen girls did. So for my mini me to want make up and sketcher shoes and brand name this and brand name that, it mystifies me. The biggie for her? JUSTICE, the store.
I’m still trying to find out who told her about this store because I’m so not name brand we don’t even go to the mall. But know it she does, and she’s constantly wanting to go. That place is like a tween threw up pink and glitter. It’s not cheap, either. In fact, she earned some spending money and guess where I’m going in 30 minutes? Yep.
How about you? What “J” word can you think of? When you think of JUST, what comes to mind?
I can’t help it but I have the song “I’m Henry the Eighth I am” in my head. Specifically, the part where Peter Noone shouted out, “Second Verse, Same as the First.”
I noticed the last two years there are life events popping out that look really familiar. It’s almost like Groundhog Day with Bill Murray where it feels like the alarm goes off and I’m living the same thing again. Thing is, I didn’t like those events the first time around.
Woundedness I received
Woundedness I dished out
When I first noticed the similarities I felt a gentle whisper assure me that although things looked the same, they were not. They were opportunities for me to trust God for a different outcome. It was not the proverbial Lucy from Peanuts holding the football moment. In some cases there would be redemption, justice, revelation, and just flat out better experiences than the first go-around.
Not easy, but better.
I’m blogging this today because this pattern continues with me. I’m seeing things that look so familiar. Names, places, circumstances. My first reaction isn’t what I know it should be. Instead, fear. Dread. Anger. Everything inbetween, including my mumbling things like, “Second verse same as the first.”
Yet in the middle of my personal GroundHog Day I’m experiencing something so different than I expected and I know it’s only the start.
People looking at the full picture, not just the small glimpse
During the first set I had experiences with literal dive bombing cardinals. Friends shared the same thing happening to them. I prayed and did research and found for me, one of the definitions I walked away with was that a cardinal is a loyal defender. To this day when I see a cardinal I claim it as a promise. God is my loyal defender.
These issues and circumstances appear like things I’ve battled before, things that nearly snuffed out everything alive and hopeful in me. But they are not the same. I’m not the same. Because of those things I’m stronger, wiser, and more discerning.
God willing, I’m surrendering to be more trusting if not of people, than of my God who loves me.
If you’re going through the second verse looking the same as the first, embrace your Heavenly Father as your loyal defender.
Because He is.
Do you love to read? I’d love if you would help us spread the word.
It’s Saturday…time for my weekly Character Confession.
It’s also the day before Casey Anthony is released from jail.
In my 41 years it’s one of the most passionate news stories I’ve ever seen and rightly so. Apparently years ago the Anthony family lived in this area, about 30 minutes away. I believe family still lives around here.
I know the Sunday School answer I’m supposed to give in the verdict and “tot mom’s” release tomorrow is that we should pray for Casey Anthony. I mean Paul was a murderer who went seeking Christians to slaughter. God got a hold of him and turned him into one of the most powerful evangelists the world will ever know.
But I’m human. I’d like to see Casey suffer, just a little. But justice isn’t Julie’s, saith the Lord. That’s for God. The only consolation I get is I know, KNOW I will see Caylee one day. It’s a small thing to say against how her life was snuffed out, I know. But I hold onto that.
And in my perfect world there is a scenario where only one other person in my mind has to me, the right to make life a little difficult for tot mom Anthony.
There is a Zanny Gonzales out there and her life has been turned every which way since Casey made up the story about a nanny named Zanny taking Caylee. All false. But Zanny exists, most likely a name Casey grabbed off a mailbox.
Zanny is suing Casey. The little difficulty I’d like to see is for Casey to sign all these big contracts and have to turn around and immediately give all profits to Zanny and a foundation that benefits children. That Casey be so dogged by reprucussions for her actions that she won’t have time to seek media or for them to find her, because she’ll be working 24/7.
IT’s a long shot, I know. But hey, it’s my Saturday confession and that’s what I’d love to see.
Until I get to heaven and have eternity to find that little girl and ask Jesus if it would be okay if I took her on a walk, hand in hand, and go through His gardens for awhile.