Last Sunday I spend 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 that were there have told me the Doctors on the scene worked to bring me back longer than they should of, the priest who stopped in to see me each day in ICU called me miracle man. My recovery was quicker than was expected. My physical rehabilitation progressed nicely. 3 months after the event I went home from the rehab center and shortly thereafter returned to work. 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 major 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. Allowed me to spend a Sunday cooking for the week because despite what bumps may be 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 do know he has touched me and he is guiding me and for that I am eternally thankful.
For the better part of a decade plus I let anger and bitterness fill my heart when it came to a certain 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. So much so that it laid the very foundation of the man I am today and I am very proud of that man. Yet 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 been 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 to myself that 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 prospective 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 the realization that the very lack of forgiveness is sin. That very 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 it is explained it is 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 really saying is that God, with a view toward loving 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 very 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 really 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 family is family and nothing should break that bond.
Steve Austin, Astronaut. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.
I may be dating myself but those were the opening lines of the 1970’s television show the Six Million Dollar Man. Austin’s rebuild body with its machine parts enabled him to have superhuman strength and speed, as well as other powers. With these powers, Steve goes to work for the Office of Scientific Information, battling evil for the good of mankind. Looking back it was pretty cheesy, as most of 70s television was. But there is nothing cheesy about the show’s message when applied to our faith.
No matter how faithful we believe ourselves to be in times of darkness many of us lose much of that faith and begin to question why the Lord would abandon us. Question if the Lord even exists. In times of darkness the reality is for many of us our faith is barely alive.
Thankfully the Lord has the power to rebuild our faith. Make it better, stronger, more spiritual and for far less than six million dollars.
It written in Isaiah 40:29-31 that:
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew  their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
It is never to late to praise the Lord. To ask Him for forgiveness for doubting Him. To pray for Him to rain down upon us the strength to renew our faith. To make it better than before. We only need to remember we are His children and he loves us unconditionally.
10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Remember with the Lord on our side there is no reason to fear anything. There is no reason to abandon our faith. But if we do He has promised us He will help us to renew it.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When the Lord strengthen us and provides us with a renewed faith it is our responsibility to pay it forward, to use our renewed faith and go out and praise His name to others. To go to work in his ministry battling evil for the good of mankind.
A Christian, bitter and lost, their faith barely alive. He can rebuild him. Make his faith better than it was before. Better, more spiritual, stronger than it was before.
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 to 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 over extended life style, 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? Her answer as you may have guessed 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. Constantly 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 went to look at my long neglected African Violet in hopes in 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 simply 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 literally be nothing.
I looked at the African Violet and took the steps need 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 now 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 you offer your praise unto him you will soon see that your situation will in time begin to brighten.
It has been said that what is genuinely mine can never be taken from me. Nothing could be more true than this when applied to your faith in the Lord.
Evil never announces itself as evil it comes with many faces but has only one goal, to try and tempt you with earthly wealth and power. But what evil has never accepted is that if you genuinely believe in the Lord and commit your life to Him no matter what it promises you it can never take away from your faith in the Lord. Because each day I am reminded of all the blessings that as a child of the Lord He offers me every day and for that I walk in gratitude and while in times of weakness my faith may waiver it can never be taken away from me.
Webster defines air as the mixture of invisible odorless tasteless gases (such as nitrogen and oxygen) that surrounds 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 rather it is our faith that validates his being. Those with faith believe without seeing. We feel His presence not in the physical sense but in 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.