40 Lashes

40 lashes, minus one. In biblical times “guilty” men were punished with 39 lashes of the whip, one less than what would likely kill them. The law said that if someone was flogged it shouldn’t cause death, so the sentence would be just short of 40.

I think I freaked a lot of people out the last time I posted, because I was open about my problems. I also got a lot of gracious feedback because so many people feel alone and isolated in their daily struggles. To be real, I don’t want to go through hard times at all, but if I have to, I hope to at least be able to see good fruit from it. So, even though I really would love to hide in the darkness for the rest of my life, I think it’s time to lift the veil.

Sometimes I feel like my death sentence was replaced with the 39 lash flogging.  If you are looking back at 2015 in the same way, you aren’t alone. The lashes may be physical, mental, medical, or all circumstantial blows. Your problems could be self-imposed, which are so guilt-inducing. Or maybe you are an innocent victim. God knows all these things and “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

I have known a lot of failure and heartache in the past few years. I can’t say I’ve responded well. I’m not a better mother now. I’m no more patient or faithful from it. I am more broken by it though. If you were to come to my door and expect Donna Reid to answer, you might be disappointed to be grunted at by her forgotten, frumpier step-sister. I don’t like being that step-sister but I suspect God put me here for a reason. Now I can relate to disease, to hopelessness, to death, to disappointment, disillusionment and depression. Now I’m humble enough to realize I can’t carry you to the cross. But I’ll love you enough that we can lean on each other and hobble through the trenches together. Let’s limp one step closer to Him each day of 2016.

I have a list of all the ways I can change to be better. To pull myself out of homemade pit I’m wallowing in. As I was  just finalizing “resolutions” for the upcoming year with ways to do so, I saw this quote by Henry Blackaby written on my prayer wall, “We ask God to bless our plans, and then we promise to give Him the glory when He does. Yet God is not glorified by making our plans succeed He receives glory when His will is done His way.” Through the haze I recognize that my desperate attempts to control things better, to fight harder, will fail if I’m striving alone.

There is such beauty in our struggles. They are all opportunities to rejoice. A chance to encourage others. A call to faith. A demand to persevere. I desire to live out these calls on my life in 2016, and to see the power of the Holy Spirit use these offerings for His glory.  So I resolve to abide in Him, always to be ready to respond to circumstances with His will, in His way. This resolution will not necessarily decrease the flogging, but it will enhance the Father.

“Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

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