Encouragement

Oceans of Grief and Islands of Grace

Your life for the most part has been smooth sailing. Sure, you’ve encountered your fair share of choppy waters, but you have bravely mustered through while maintaining your composure. The storms, though fierce, have always quickly dwindled. The waves swiftly settled, the winds ceased in blowing, the clouds began parting, and they soon gave way to the sunshine again. After basking in the warmth and glow of the sun for a season, you never imagined that a storm of such magnitude could materialize so abruptly. You never even saw it coming. You had no time to prepare for this, and this is not what you had envisioned. You feel lost and helpless against it.

The realization that you have now lost all control of your situation hits hard, and you soon find yourself capsized in the middle of a bottomless ocean. You feel the fear and panic slowly creep up into your throat. You cry out for help, but are met in return by only the sound of the crashing waves around you. The waves have repeatedly pulled you under, and as you fight to surface, you gasp for your next breath, which is barely enough to fill your lungs. The current is becoming stronger and stronger, and your energy is rapidly depleting. The waves have tossed you back and forth endlessly, and every muscle in your body aches and burns from your futile exertion to swim to safety. You’re exhausted and cannot fight the strength of the water anymore. It’s over. Just as you feel yourself giving up and letting go, you see it.

 

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A small beam of light catches the corner of your eye. You quickly become fixated on this unknown light source, and feel a small glimmer of hope flare within your spirit. This beam begins shining… brighter and brighter. You consciously decide to stop fighting the current, and feel your body being swept by the waves toward this light. As you draw closer, the light begins to reveal itself. It’s a lighthouse.

The light, almost blinding by this point, illuminates your path as you exhaustedly thrust yourself upon the safety of the small sand bank. You climb the shelves of jagged rocks finally reaching an elevation of safety that the water can no longer reach. In the presence of this beaming light, the storm continues to rage around you, but you are safe. SAFE ON THE ROCK. You draw a full breath of oxygen deep into your burning lungs, and begin to cry… RELEASE. It’s in this surrender that an unexplainable peace begins to flood over you. You are being held. This battle is not yours to fight. You are not alone. He is going to carry you through this storm…

We mistakenly exhaust ourselves, fighting the current, and attempting to hold onto all of the scattered pieces of our lives when all we have to do is surrender it entirely to God. He alone is our place of safety. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In the midst of our darkest storms, his light continues to shine…guiding us, leading us, encouraging us, and comforting us. God IS the light and in Him is NO darkness! His grace will meet you right where you are my friend. His arms will never tire of holding you up, and when your strength fails, He is right there carry you.

I don’t know the storm you might be facing today, but I know that God does. When those tears begin to flow, don’t fight them. Let them fall. Release your pain to Him. Only He can calm your heart and give you peace. God knows your sorrows, and He hears your cries my friend. This storm is not going to last forever. Continue to stand in the warmth of His love… the sun will come back out. When you feel yourself sinking and the water starts closing in, simply stretch forth your hand. Your lifeguard, He’s there…and He walks on the water. 

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Encouragement

I’m Gonna Tell You That I Love You

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Loss… it has a way of making you appreciate what you once had. It makes you see things from a different perspective and brings revelation to the value of what has been lost.

I awoke to read words that tore through my heart this morning. We lost a beloved member of our church family in a tragic accident last night. I couldn’t control the tears as they streamed down my face while calling out for my husband, informing him of this terrible news. We are all just devastated, numb, and in disbelief.

Times of loss often leave us feeling helpless. There are no words that we can say to ease the pain of those suffering. There is no act of kindness that we could perform that can remove the sting left by death.

Loss reminds us of just how fragile life is. It reminds us that we were never promised our next breath and that each moment that we have been given is a gift. Loss reminds us of how much we unknowingly take for granted, and just how much of a void will be left now that they are no longer here with us.

Brother Jess met us every Sunday morning as we walked through our church door. Every time we saw him, he had the warmest hugs and the biggest smile to share with us. Brother Jess prayed for us. He taught us. He loved us… and he never left without letting you know it.

I wrapped my arms around Brother Jess yesterday afternoon and told him that I loved him before walking out the door. I never expected that it would have been the last time that I would ever see him. I never imagined that it would be the last time that I would get to see his smile, to hug him tight, or tell him that I loved him. “Love you sis”… the last words Brother Jess ever said to me… and they will forever live in my heart.

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Loss reminds me of the person that I want to be… that person that is going to tell you “I love you” every time I see you, and at the end of every message and telephone call. I’m that person that is gonna wrap my arms around you and squeeze you tight even though we may have only met. You might look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s okay… because I still love you. You don’t have to feel like you need to say it back or even reciprocate it… but I just want you to know that I love you. Jesus told us to love… and to love like Him. Love has become an almost taboo subject in our society today, but loving others is one of our greatest commandments! Loving others is what we have been called to do! Jesus didn’t just love the select few… He loved all.  He didn’t only love sometimes or just whenever He felt like it, but He loved at all times, and today we love, because He first loved us.

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Brother Jess inspired so many of us with his teachings and with the genuine love that he held for everyone. The testimony of his faith will live on. The lives that he has impacted, will forever be changed. His love and heart for people made a difference in this world.

Loss reminds us to place value and importance on every single person in our life. Their role might be big or it might be small. These people may be integral parts for our entire lifetime or they might only be there for a short season. Regardless, we love.

If today were the last day you would ever see a person, would that person know that you cared for them? Never shy away from showing God’s love to others my friends. Our time here is so short, and we have so much love to give.