Today, we are living smack in the middle of different!
As my husband and our five children walk down the gangplank from the Japanese freighter onto the solid shore, into the heat and the bustling port of Santos, Brazil, my ears only hear the strange sounds of Portuguese, the language of my new home. It is August, 1967, when there is no such thing as the internet, no computers, no easy international phone calls. Letters (sent air mail) usually take 10 days to arrive and many never get to their destinations. It will be three years before I once again hear English on the street and in the stores.
I am there because of something God put into motion five years earlier. I know I’m going into the unknown, but I have no concept of the depths of change that is coming into my own life.
We’ve spent the past five years talking and preparing for this move. Jesus left His home to come to earth to share the Good News of Hope and Love. I’d learned the joy of walking with Him and desired with all my heart to share this Good News with others. So, we are here, starting the next phase of our journey as get onto an older style bus (no a/c), to travel to where we will sleep that night. We’d studied about CULTURE SHOCK. Now it will become part of our lives.
It is now June, 2015.
At this time, I’m living in Portland, OR. I don’t know for how long. For the past 48 years, I’ve spent most of my years in Brazil, and that is “home” to me.
Now, when I’m out on the street, in stores or offices, I may hear at least three different languages: English, Spanish, and/or Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Russian. Then there is Arabic, plus how many others? Each of these languages represents a different culture and different belief system.
In Seattle, the international airport has instructions in English and Japanese. The majority of airports in the US have instructions in English and Spanish. Many business automatic phone responses say: “Press 1 for English, 2 for Espanhol”.
All of these illustrations indicate that the nation I was raised in as a child no longer exists. Things in this nation have changed and are different.
I’m in the United States, but it is not a familiar culture. Instead, it is a third culture I have to learn and understand. Only this time, changes here are happening so rapidly I am in shock.
Conversing with others, I frequently hear the expression: “I can’t believe it!” as people talk about what is happening in this nation.
Welcome to CULTURE SHOCK. Only you didn’t move to another country to have the experience. Instead, the changes came here, and we are all living in the midst of them.
This can create confusion, anger, desperation, a sense of helplessness or hopelessness, anxiety . . . and the list continues.
In some of my posts, I will begin sharing and applying basic principles I learned in the past, and now realize I have to continue using in this crazy world we are living in today. I hope that these painfully learned truths will challenge and be of help to you. Welcome to today’s culture.
It is evening. My body is exhausted from sorting and packing. My mind is tired from thinking.
I reach for my Bible to see if I can find some verses to bring me peace. I open my Bible and start reading . . . Suddenly, I read a verse that stops me in surprise. I look at the verse again, and the words hit me and dig in deep.
….always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20
I shake my head in disbelief. How many times have I read this verse? But it never hit me like it is now.
I thought that forgiveness is a challenge? Even as I’m learning to forgive out of obedience, not emotion, and beginning to see some changes in my attitudes.
But this? Thank God, and praise Him, for all the tears and hurts? Thank Him for my husband being unfaithful? Thank God for the betrayal of a woman I’d thought of as my friend?
ohhh, I know Romans 8:28 says …in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. . .
but to thank Himforthings that are wrong? How in this world can I dothat? This is too much!
I turn back to the two passages I had just read.
1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” and
Phil. 4:8-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
OK … I ponder over these verses again.
Be joyful always does not mean be happy always. Happiness comes and goes. It’s a surface emotion. Joy is something deep inside me. I can have a quiet joy, even when things are wrong. because I know that God is with me.
Pray continually. My God knows I’m talking with Him all the time. I couldn’t make it without Him.
Give thanks in all circumstances. Thank Him in all circumstances is God’s will for me as I follow Christ Jesus. I can see that. I am to trust Him and know that all things work together for my good. And His Will is that I do this . It’s difficult, but I can learn how to do this.
Rejoice in the Lord…again, there is the joy – and Paul says it two times, so he is extra serious on this one!
Now why did He say: Let your gentleness be evident to all. Perhaps, because if I follow these instructions, I won’t be full of anger and rancor, and can actually be gentle in my approach with people, not wanting to hit them over the head? hmmm maybe I wouldn’t want to hit them over the head if I obeyed these instructions? Good thought!
The Lord is near. I am so thankful for that! To know that He is here, near me! That helps!
Do not be anxious about anything That definitely goes against my personal tendencies. I worry about and for my kids, and their kids. I sorrow over the hurts of others, their losses. My heart sorrows about so many things… and Paul continues with his thought. . .
but in everything,, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Paul is telling me to take all my worries and frustrations to the Lord and turn them into words, and present them to God. But, look, here he says that when we do this, we are also to thank and praise Him. Thanking and praising God are very important to Him – which means they should be important to me.
The promised blessing when I do this? the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
OK God, I think I get this. It’s sinking in – and in whatever situation I am in, I can obey this and have peace. . . and if I don’t have peace about something, then I need to take it to you in prayer, with thanksgiving.
It’s going to take work – and I see the logic.
But what about Eph 5:20
….always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I do not get this one. I see no logic in it? Thanking youfor things that are totally against Your will?
This post is a little different. I start out by describing a scene of hurt, then attempt to apply what we learn from it.
It’s now the correct time to unpack your imagination. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Imagine a wide staircase. You and a friend are standing together on one of the steps, relaxed and talking. You say something. Unexpectedly, your friend turns on you and begins spewing out verbal garbage about you, at the same time jabbing at you.
You’re in shock. You don’t believe it, even as it is happening! You almost stumble, then grab onto an arm and hit back, yelling above that voice you used to enjoy hearing The two of you stumble and go down one step, then another step; hanging onto each other.
STOP! FREEZE THE FRAME RIGHT THERE!
Look at the scene. Both mouths are wide open yelling
The body language is aggression!
Can we identify with this scene in our daily lives?? . . . People we love turn on us or fail us? Or we are with people who are hurting, have become bitter, and then cut at us? What can we do?
There are the countless daily irritations, plus emotional betrayals, crooked business deals, family problems – with spouses, children, and more. The thing in common for each item? Each one tightens up our bodies in anger or fear.
How can we live in peace and forgiveness when all this wrong stuff bombards us daily? That’s what we’re going to talk about.
First, let’s go back to that scene and let it roll. It can end in several different ways.
Today, we’ll look at a couple of them, one at a time.
Two friends, one creates an offense (a form of betrayal) , the second uses offense in self-defense. They stumble to a lower step. If this continues to go as it is right now, they will continue pulling each other down, from one level to another, until they part in anger and bitterness.
The frightening thing about this situation is that even after walking away from each other,they are still connected emotionally in a negative way. Words were uttered along with actions that will continue to fester and create an inner moldy substance. Regardless of distance or time, they will be linked emotionally until at least one of them learns how to be freed from the yoke of bitterness, which keeps increasing in weight with each passing year, destroying whoever carries it in their heart, as well as all others with whom they come into contact.
Bitterness is an ugly root that can entwine itself around our emotions, twisting how we see the world around us. If we let it, it will completely take over our personalities, poisoning us on the inside: affecting our emotions, our health, our families, and our world. I am not being too dramatic about it; that is what bitterness is.
Hebrews 12:15Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—
I’ve watched bitterness destroy others: I had my own personal battle with it in my 20’s over a very unimportant incident. I learned I never want it in my life again. Bitterness is horrible; it strangles the life out of one. But if I want things my way, and am not willing to let go of “my rights”, I open myself to resentment and bitterness. I painfully learned that nothing is worth hanging onto if it opens the door to self-destruction.
The second result of this scene is a little more complicated to explain, but I will try.
I want to stress this is an opinion – something I have thought about – but I am not teaching this as a theological truth.
Here we go . . .
There is mystery in God’s Word…
God does not exist within a time frame, right? But something that happens here on earth (for example Christ dying on the cross for all of our sins), is, for us who are living now within the frame of time, an event that happened a couple of thousand years ago.
But, if it’s placed in the frame of eternity, where there is no time, is it still happening?
In one sense, I think the answer may be “yes.” If Christ died for every one of our sins from the beginning to the end of time, and I live within that time frame, then don’t the sins I commit today give Him a heavier burden of sin and pain on the cross.?
If I mistreat others, does it all continue increasing on the balance scale in eternity? Is this the outcome I want in my life, causing more pain to Christ on the cross? Or do I want the load of pain upon my Lord to be less.
Is it possible that a simple unforgiven offense can reap untold sorrow and pain down throughout the centuries?
How long will this momentl from this scene be frozen in the universe, even as these two walk away from each other in anger? How can this negative bondage be broken? Is forgiveness absolutely necessary here? Who forgives whom? And when?
Matt 6: 14-15 The Message
Jesus said: “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”
Let’s examine forgiveness a little more closely. A definition I read the other day about forgiveness: it is releasing my right to demand justice and revenge against a person. Ouch!
Can I trust God to carry through with my protection in this situation? Will He defend me from wrong if I release my rights? Do I really believe it when He says He is my fortress?
This is the decision each one of us faces, Daily. In all circumstances. We have to work it through in our minds. Then, if or when, I decide that I want to forgive, how do I do it?
Now is when we can go back to that scene when you were attacked verbally and/or physically by the person you thought was a friend. However it was expressed, it was a betrayal of trust.
This time we’re going to put our Lord in the midst of the scene (and He IS always there,we just don’t think of His presence.
You are standing there; your “friend” becomes your enemy, hurting you deeply. You respond in self-defense. The two of you are standing, yoked together by your hands on each other’s bodies, each one with the purpose of hurting the other. Awareness hits, you remember what the Lord teaches us about forgiveness. You pull your hand away, giving up your right for revenge and justice; instead, you give your enemy to God for Him to handle.
When you do this, God removes your enemy’s hand from you, holding his hand away from you. You are free to walk away, free from the yoke of bondage to that person. You may be hurting, in sorrow and confusion. But, you are free! Free to heal. Free to learn. Free to be blessed.
One important thing: Each time the sorrow, hurt and confusion begin to move into your mind, go yhrough the process we just went through. Visually think of standing on those steps, and forgiving, giving that person to God. Then able to turn and walk away free.
Why did I place this scene on the steps? Look at what happened. Your enemy wanted to degrade you. But what happens when you forgive?” God lifts you one or two steps above the person who tried to “put you down.”
We choose on a daily basis.
a) I can be a slave to my emotions of anger and bitterness, which then lead to a constant downward spiral or, b) I can forgive, and forgiveness frees me. I do not have to crawl in the dirt of anger and horrid memories of when people purposefully hurt me.
When I look at it like this, I wonder: Why do I sometimes hesitate before forgiving? A good question.
A thought to take with you:
Following our Father God’s instructions, He begins giving wings to my spirit, along with His peace, and teaching me how to fly.
I like that. How about you?
For more on why I’m writing this blog, please read ABOUT ME .