Good Morning & Happy Saturday We have made it through another work week and we wake to another day because of His glory.
Take a moment to sing his praise and to pray for those who don’t believe or are simply lost. Pray that they too will find their way home. Because once they come home they they will always be welcomed with open arms as we are all because we are now and will forever be His Children and He is all forgiving.
Last Sunday, I spent a good part of my morning and afternoon cooking for the week. Italian meatloaf (really turkey loaf), Cornish game hens, collard greens, black bean soup, and spaghetti with mussels. Rewind almost a year ago, and I was recovering from a cardiac arrest. Those who were there have told me the Doctors on the scene worked to bring me back longer than they should; the priest who stopped in to see me each day in the ICU called me miracle man. My recovery was quicker than was expected. My physical rehabilitation progressed nicely. Three months after the event, I went home from the rehab center and returned to work shortly after. A miracle? Maybe but more likely just another day for the Lord Almighty, who chose to reach down and touch me and say, not yet, my son, there is still work for you to do on this Earth. Now I won’t lie; it hasn’t been smooth sailing since the event some days are better than others there are bumps along the road health-wise. Despite that, every day, I wake and can see and smell the wonderful world around me and know of all the love my family and friends have for me, a love so apparent during my recovery and no doubt a significant factor in it. For this, I am truly blessed, blessed that the hand of the Lord has touched me and given me this second chance at life. It allowed me to spend a Sunday cooking for the week because despite what bumps maybe along the way, in my mind, I know He stands over me and will allow me to wake another day, so I might as well have something to eat on those days. I do not know what His ultimate plan is for me, but I know he has touched me, and he is guiding me, and I am eternally thankful for that.
For the better part of a decade-plus, I let anger and bitterness fill my heart when it came to a particular family member. The reason for my anger is neither here nor there but suffice to say it was Ironic that despite the fact I was harboring a grudge, I knew that the result of their actions played out to my benefit. It laid the very foundation of the man I am today, and I am very proud of that man. Despite this indisputable fact, I continued to curse the decision and the way it was revealed to me.
Hebrews 12:15 – “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
Not acknowledging my bitterness and true feelings during this time robbed me of a family bond that should never be broken. My anger cast a giant shadow on my very being. The rift between that family member and myself by its very nature spilled over to that family member’s immediate family. In essence, I cut myself off from them while not acknowledging that I was doing exactly what I was doing. I missed the birth of many children and the growth of others. I became a stranger to an entire branch of the family tree. I can never put into perspective what those losses have had on me as a person, but I know it could not have been positive. Family is always family, and through anger and bitterness, I had forgotten that.
A recent health issue was the catalyst for me to re-examine and reenergize my faith. Through prayer, the Lord spoke to me and guided me to realize that the very lack of forgiveness is sin. That same lesson is taught to us in “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Matthew 6: 12-15
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one.‘ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
As explained in Bible.org href=”https://bible.org/article/issue-forgiveness-sermon-mount”>https://bible.org/article/issue-forgiveness-sermon-mount it appears that what Jesus is saying is that God, intending to love the unforgiving child, refuses to forgive him in an attempt to get the child to come face to face with His sin of an unforgiving heart. The person who is unwilling to forgive will soon meet his Equal. The goal of this is to re-establish the broken relationships between God and the people involved.
For me, this realization was like a bright light shining onto the darkness in my heart. The next day, I picked up the phone and called that family member to start the healing process and mend the rift between us. I expressed how wrong I had been and how I wanted us to go back to being a family again. It was an emotional call for both of us, but upon saying the words, I want us to be a family again I could feel the weight lifted. My heart had been released of the bitterness it had stubbornly held for over a decade. I understood that I had finally done the right thing. After all, a family is a family and nothing should break that bond.
When I first moved into my new apartment, I was gifted an African Violet as a house warming gift. I remember thinking how beautiful it was with its purple blooms. Now I’m not exactly known as someone with a green thumb, but the African Violet did not need much attention. You have to keep the soil moist to dry and allow the soil around roots to dry out before watering. It thrived in moderate to bright, indirect, indoor light. Pretty much, it was set and go and enjoy its beauty.
In the beginning, I made a point of taking great care of the plant; it was, after all, easy to do. I also found myself looking at it as a source of relaxation and motivation due to its striking color and amazing blooms. Just by looking at it, I could feel my spirits being lifted as it seemingly gave me a sense of purpose.
As the months went by, the good times were plentiful. Success seemed to be around every corner. With success, I found myself spending more time at the office as I endeavored to continue, which at the time was a rapid rise up the corporate ladder. When I wasn’t in the office, I was out networking and enjoying the social scene. During this time, I neglected my beautiful African Violet that had provided me with so much inspiration. Then as fast as the success came, the economy took a downward turn. Cutbacks were on the horizon. I survived the company purge, but the rise up the corporate ladder came to a dramatic halt. The large bonuses that I had foolishly incorporated into my budget to finance my overextended lifestyle dried up. At the same time, my girlfriend, who I believed loved me, answered the question New Edition once asked. Can you stand the rain? As you may have guessed, her answer was no, and she told me it was over. She made up some excuse about us growing apart, but it was pretty obvious the distance between us only widened as my bank account lessened.
I fell into a funk. Depressed, I cut myself off from most of the world. I frequently asked myself, why is this happening? Spend many a weekend laying in bed with no desire to get up and embrace the day. One day, I looked at my long-neglected African Violet, hoping it could once again inspire me with its beauty. When I looked at it, I saw it had stop flowering and its leaves had turned yellow. I immediately understood that it was my failure to water it and cultivate its soil because I was so busy enjoying the good times, that was. Responsible for its current condition.
I had taken it for granted and assumed that it would always be there in all its beauty as an inspiration when I needed it.
Your faith is like the African Violet; it does not require super high maintenance. But it does require that we not neglect it. Not cultivate and continue to strengthen it in the good times and expect that it will merely be there for us in times of angst. We must continue to take steps along our spiritual journey, praising the Lord for the blessings He has bestowed upon us in good times. Strengthen our belief each day so that we do not turn away from the Lord and egotistically pat ourselves on the back for achieving such success, forgetting that without the Lord, we would be nothing.
I looked at the African Violet and took steps to restore its beauty. Watering it, cultivating its soil, ensuring that it received the proper amount of sunlight. Soon its beauty began to return. It started to bloom once again. New bright and vibrant green leaves took the place of the ones that had turned yellow. My renewed commitment to the African Violet brought me a new and stronger plant and, with it, a new source of inspiration. Now each day, I look at it in all of its beauty and go out and embrace all that the world offers me, good and bad.
As with the African Violet, you can renew your faith by recommitting to the Lord. The Lord does not hold grudges and His blessings are always there for you. As you restart your spiritual journey and offer your praise unto him, you will soon see that your situation will begin to brighten in time.
Webster defines air as the mixture of invisible, odorless, tasteless gases (such as nitrogen and oxygen) surrounding the earth. Invisible, odorless, and tasteless, yet It is vital that living things respire to get the oxygen for living cells to function. Without air, there is no life.
Faith is much like the air we can not see. We cannot use physical proof of the Lord’s existence, but instead, our faith validates his being. Those with faith believe without seeing. We feel His presence, not in the physical sense but the spiritual sense. We accept unconditionally that while He cannot be seen or touched, His hand is touching our soul, guiding us, walking with us, protecting us. We feel His aura as it surrounds us. We recognize that He has no beginning and no end and that with Him, nothing is impossible; without Him there would be no life.