Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy

The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy will take your heart on a monstrously savage and revitalizing calm journey that will leave you burning with a desire to open your heart and mind to God’s still small voice. This story will open your eyes not only to the quiet suffering of those around you, but to your potential to impact the lives of those around you in a manner that can change them forever if you choose to be open to it. While we all have our own pain and suffering to bear, we can choose to help ease the burdens of those who are in much more pain then we are.

This story reminded me of the song “His is With Me” by Mandisa. While the song doesn’t talk about actively reaching out to those who are suffering, it does point out what no matter what struggles you are going through God Is always there with you. He will not abandon you. He will stick by you no matter what. That is the message that we need to be taking to the world around us. We need to have the heart, the courage, and the quiet passion to reach out of our comfort zone and take our neighbor’s hand and walk beside them as they struggle. After all, where would we be today if someone didn’t do that for us at the darkest times in our own lives? We need to honor that person(s) by helping those we see who are going through a rough patch.

God has placed us on this earth to learn to live together, love and obey Him, and to be His hands and feet to each other. It is His desire that we help each other up after falling down instead of taking the easy road of condemning then and walking away. Pain will never be removed from this earth, but there is no reason why we can’t do all we can to help heal those we know. Yes, it is a long process, and, yes, it is a lot of work, but the rewards are such that we will never know the extent of them until we receive them from our Heavenly Father. If we are worth the time and attention of the Creator of the Universe, then why aren’t those around us worthy of our attention? 

I believe that God wants to show us His capacity for love, grace, and compassion that he has instilled in each of us. We just need to allow Him to use us, so that he can increase those reserves in us and pour out His blessings through us and to us by our obedience. We can all find different ways to show those attributes to others, but the question is will we choose to do that? Will we have the courage to step out in faith and put those in action? Will we choose to do what we can to make this a better world?

While Audrey, a Pastor’s wife who had the heart of a servant, had a physical manifestation that allowed her to sense when someone was going through a hard time, that isn’t how most of us will tell if someone is going through a hard time. We will need to rely on God’s discernment through prayer, news from friends or family, or just by getting to know someone. Even though we have our work cut out for us, it is work that is worth it not only in their lives but in our own. God will shower blessings on you for your obedience, and your help may stretch farther then just that one person.  It may not impact your existence on this earth like Audrey’s family went through, but it may touch the lives of multiple people or even multiple families. We never know how far our love, grace, and compassion will go. We just need to be ready to give it in times of need.

Obedience brings freedom, peace, hope, love, and every other blessing given to us by God. Will you obey Him the next time he speaks to your heart?

One Step Away by Eric Wilson

One Step Away is an exhilarating whirlwind that puts a modern day twist on the Biblical account of Job. However, this story is much more than just that. It’s a cyclical pilgrimage that one family has to learn from and experience in order to show them the treasures that they already have and are overlooking daily. It’s a refining journey that will strip away the unnecessary and deadly desires that they desperately hold onto and secretly dream of.  It’s a renaissance voyage that will finally bring their family together stronger and will see their deepest hopes and dreams come true. In short, One Step Away is the type of story that will leave you wide-eyed, full of hope, and consumed to pursue the things in life that REALLY matter. 

You will see how lives are intertwined with and affected by those around us that we touch and come in contact with. We do not live lives of isolation no matter what we might think and hope. All of us are bound to touch the lives of people we are related to, work with, and see every day. Even if we don’t see the effects, it doesn’t mean that they don’t happen. Our human eyes are so weak and even blind to our own actions and how they impact the lives of others. We need to be more sensitive and aware of what we do and say and even of what we don’t say and do and how they affect those around us. We need to become the better version of ourselves that we always dream of becoming. We need to strip away the pretenses, the lies, our past, and our protective walls that surround our heart and lives. We need to change – to become more like our Creator and less like ourselves.

The story starts out with a husband and wife (Brett and Sara Vreelend) whose hearts are filled with as much self-doubt about their financial hardships as they are in dealing with struggles from their past. They dream of changing their lot in life not only to help their family obtain what they see as the best in life but also to help ease the burden of the other in helping to bring about their deepest dreams and hopes. While that in itself is not bad, being consumed by this can drive you slowly mad in seeing at just how helpless we all are in trying to achieve this feat. We can’t do this by ourselves – it’s impossible. However, nothing is impossible with God’s help. We ultimately need to learn to be content with what God has given to us and not desire more. It will only prove to be our downfall in the end.

It would seem that as a reward for the unwavering faithfulness of this family, God has turned their hardships into a huge blessing - a 6 million dollar blessing to be exact. With money, everything changes, and I mean everything. The husband’s boss suddenly sees him worthy of a very nice promotion as he is now successful, a lightning rod, and someone that he now wants on his team. Their pastor sees that they were now reaping the benefits of being the faithful believers that they always claimed to be and were worthy of taking a role in their church that they previously were not deemed worthy of.  Even in the Christian community, with wealth comes status, and with status comes class. As sad as it may sound, it seems to be true more often than not. We must remember to put our faith, hope, and love in God because He never changes, always loves you, and only wants the best for you. 

Throughout this story we see countless times where not letting go of and giving their past completely to God to deal with has come back to haunt them or been a constant thorn in the side.  Sara has an almost constant reminder of her fiancĂ© who died tragically and took with him her change at a life of no cares or worries unlike the life she currently has. Her refusal to let those memories go holds her back from her husband’s complete faith that he has all of her heart. It leaves doubts and worries in his mind and causes them both undue stress and strain in their marriage and in their hearts. Brett’s own struggles of growing up with his alcoholic and abusive father has left him scarred and battered. He is unable to forgive his father, and is haunted by the fear that he may turn into his father with his own family. We, as parents, are quick to give good advice to our kids in such matters in their lives, but we are either not willing to or are unable to take the same advice and apply it to our lives. In the end, it would serve us well to follow our own advice and be a better example to our kids.

With the blessing given to the Vreelends, their life changed as did their house, their cars and their jobs. Along with their lifestyles, they themselves began to change. They were making choices that weren’t always the best as in Sara’s choice to hide an expensive shopping spree or Brett’s choice to hide the fact that he received a rather expensive speeding ticket. They began to feel that with the money they were entitled to some benefits that most people don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of. They were trying to follow in the footsteps of people who looked happy on the outside but were in reality miserable on the inside. Always remember to be true to God, yourself, your family, and your friends. It doesn’t benefit anyone to try to be someone you aren’t for the sake of more money or a friendship or any other desire you may have. Once you take your first step down the wrong road, it’s very hard to turn back and choose to follow the right one again.

The Vreelands discovered a few things in the end that they already knew but had forgotten before it was too late. First, they learned that only when you are stripped bare do you know who you truly are. No more excuses and no more lies. You find out what matters the most to you. You are given a fresh pair of eyes to see the true blessings from God which does not include money or other desires of the flesh. Second, they figured out that it was time to let the past go. They needed to start living the life God always intended for them to live. Once their past was shed and let go, the burdens on their heart were lifted. They were happier even with no money, and they had no more doubts about each other. Lastly, they came to appreciate true love and all that comes with it. True love doesn’t manipulate you, it doesn’t tear you down, it doesn’t tear a relationship apart, and it doesn’t try to destroy families. 

I would hope that we all learn the same lessons from the Vreelands fateful adventure. The desires and treasures of this world will not satisfy us. We were not made for this world and its things. We are made for God and the pleasure of His presence and His fellowship. Only when we are following in the plan and purpose that He has laid out for our lives will we truly be happy and content. So let go of what you are currently holding onto and give it to God. Let Him deal with it, and instead accept His love, His peace, His hope, and His blessings.