Please enjoy this encouraging blog written by one of my writing mentors, Lucinda Secrest McDowell. Lucinda nails it in this blog, and I've asked permission to share it with you. Many deep truths, shared so succinctly. —Sharon Gamble
I was once young and full of it. Ideas. Opinions. Advice. Me. Truth-as-I-saw-it. Then … Life. I grew up and learned how much I really didn’t know. So I began a new quest. For Vision. Purpose. Compassion. Truth. Hope. Grace. My Story … Wisdom. Today I’d love to share with you What I Learned After I Knew It All …
1. I am deeply loved. You are too.
This is where I hang my ultimate identity—I am “God’s Beloved.” If that sounds a bit presumptuous, so be it. In the Bible God says “I have loved with you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3 NASB). That’s good enough for me. So, you can take any titles or status or other identity-marker away and this is what I’ll be—simply and purely God’s Beloved.
2. There is evil in the world.
Do not be naïve—there is (and has always been) an “enemy of your soul” who will do anything to destroy your life and keep you from being the person God created you to be. His wiles are many—but they usually start with whispers, doubts, distractions, and making us believe lies. When people give in to this enemy, they do horrific things which destroy their lives and others’ lives. We are at war in the spiritual realm, but we know Who has the power to win the final battle. Stay strong!
3. The only way to grow in faith is to spend time with God.
A lot of people want to be spiritual. But the truth is, most people don’t want it enough to do what it takes to be godly, wise, and, yes, holy. We cannot know God and live the life He calls us to by simply having a weekly spiritual rhythm (church, a Bible study). We must spend time with Him in prayer, meditation/study of His Word, and worship through a daily spiritual rhythm. This is not “new news.” It is the ancient practice of spiritual disciplines. And there truly is no other way. Trust me.
4. Being grateful is much better than whining and complaining.
I had a bumper sticker on my old suburban which said, “Have You Thanked God Today?” Well, have you? Have I? Stop complaining and whining and dwelling on all the negative stuff. Instead, try to identify at least one thing you can thank God for every single day. If you write it in a small little datebook, you will have a long list of blessings to ponder and remember. By the way, this will change you/me.
5. God loves my children even more than I love them.
I spend a lot of time and thought and prayer over my (now) six young adult children. They are not living in my nest because they are all out discovering how to live their unique lives and fulfill their callings. They are scattered far and wide and are each great adventurers. Sometimes I ache and cry and want to “fix” life for them, but I can’t. Sometimes I worry and want to protect them, but I must continually remind myself that even though I love them enough to be willing to die for them, God loves them (and my three grands) even more than I do and He is a perfect parent. And through His own Son, he did that very thing.
6. We are not alone.
It’s so hard to feel all alone in a crowd. And it’s also hard to feel alone whilst alone. No one understands. No one knows. No one can help carry this particular “load.” But the truth, as Christ told us upon leaving earth, is “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NLT). We are not alone after all. He is only a prayer away. It often helps me to envision Him sitting in the passenger seat of my car, on the empty chair across from my sofa. I find His “presence” my greatest present most days.
7. Prayer is powerful.
True prayer is made up of a whole lot more than a list of things to ask God for. I try to use the acronym TRIP to remind me to include …
- Thanks (praise)
- Repentance (confession and asking forgiveness)
- Intercession (praying for others) and
- Petition (praying for me).
The most important thing about prayer is to DO IT. But I find that making lists and consulting the Psalms (God’s prayerbook) as well as ancient prayers help me focus each morning and beyond. I have discovered there is nothing that can refresh, revive, and support me daily as does praying both in the morning and evening.
8. We are guided through both opened and closed doors.
I love open doors and fresh beginnings and when someone says “yes” to a request. A new book contract, an invitation to speak, a job offer, a budding relationship …. But the truth is, in my own life God has also used closed doors (sometimes slammed in my face) to guide me where He wants me. And I have almost always come to be grateful for that “severe mercy” of deliverance. Remember this and hope it takes the sting out of disappointment. He is sovereign. He is in control.
9. In every season of life, we have something important to offer.
This year was a Big Birthday for me! Certainly beats the alternative! But it also means that with the years I want to also have the wisdom and passion to make each moment count and to do the important things, not just the same-old thing. I don’t always know what I have left to give, but I’m determined to wake up each day and take feeble steps forward as a Kingdom Builder—with encouraging words on my lips and a thankfulness in my heart for the privilege to grow older with grace.
10. The only proper response to God’s gift of grace is to receive it and pass it along to others.
When I finally discovered that I didn’t have to strive to earn God’s love, but could rest in His grace because I was the recipient of that amazing gift I did not deserve, it literally changed my life. My only response was to seek to be a grace-giver to others. But that meant letting go of “shoulda-coulda-woulda” living and judgmental attitudes. I haven’t always done this perfectly, but I join our literary friend Jean Valjean (he of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) in knowing that when we have received much, we give much—“to love another person is to see the face of God” (sung in the final moments of the musical). I know this is true. For a while I lived the other way. Today I choose to live in grace.
Under the mercy,
A prayer from Sharon: Oh, Father, thank You for Your grace! Thank You for these truths that remind us. Help us to live in the sure knowing that You love us and You have offered us grace—undeserved pardon—and eternity spent with You. Help us to be grace-givers to others as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is passionate about embracing life—both through deep soul care as well as living
courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she delights in
“Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” You can read more about her books, her blog, and her speaking at her website:
You are loved,
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