And Suddenly

 

 

external-content.duckduckgo“And suddenly there arose a great storm in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, but He was asleep.” Matthew 8:24

I’ll never forget it. I can see in my mind, in slow motion, the incident. How many of you owned a banana seat bike? Our large family of 13 had one. It was light blue, with a white seat, big blue daisies were all over it, a perfect artistic master piece. My sister actually had the owner rights but she was kind enough to let me ride it once in a while. I was in fourth grade, loud and proud. After school was dismissed I ran to the bike rack excited to have the privilege of riding the bike home that day. My sister was on the back holding on tight, when down the steep hill we went, as fast as my little legs would let me go, our hair blowing in the wind. It was amazing! The faster the better! Then suddenly…out of no where, a bully threw a stick out in front of the bike… on purpose. The jerk! I didn’t have time to stop. It was a horrendous crash. I went flipping off the bike flat on my face. My sister about landing on top of me. We were scraped up and bleeding bad! I still have a scar on my knee to prove it! The beautiful blue bike lay in a mangled mess, like a crushed soda can. I was furious. I ran home, storming through the door announcing the incident at the top of my angry, crying lungs! In an instant, my oldest brother rose to the occasion, running out the door ready to meet up with this bully and give him a piece of his mind. It was not a pretty sight. My sister and I went to school the next day looking like Santa Claus; white bandages on our chins, knees and elbows. Everyone was asking what in the world happened!

It all happened so fast, so suddenly! How could someone be so mean? Why would he do that to us? Didn’t he realize who he was messing with? Anyone mistreating an Odum girl had to face 6 brothers and a dad who would be sure vengeance took place. What in this world happened?

We can all relate to a suddenly. Those moments that completely take us by surprise, unexpectedly. The accident that wasn’t your fault, that car that turned in front of you, totaling your car. That person who cut you off in line and sudden rage tore through you, tempting you with words that you never dreamed you would ever say. The phone call catching you suddenly by surprise, announcing the death of a loved one. Jealousy shows up on the job, and your job is suddenly in jeopardy. You are misunderstood, assumptions are made and your reputation is suddenly gone.  You post a picture on Facebook and it makes someone upset, creating havoc you never expected. These sudden moments can change us…for life. Without notice they come. They leave footprints on our heart that will last the rest of our lives. Uninvited but inviting us to make a choice. What we do about these “suddenly” moments is so important.

Spiritually, what happens to us when our suddenly comes? Will we make bitter decisions or better decisions? Will we decide to fight back or lay back and let God handle it? It’s not easy.  Our flesh was created to defend, the desire to fight back, to win. There is nothing wrong with the fight in us but if our attitude and spirit are wrong, we can fight until we are blue in the face and lose every battle. Fight, but do it with God and with a right spirit. You will always lose having a wrong spirit, period. You will always win having the right spirit, always! God has our best interest at heart whether it looks like it or feels like it or not, He does. Even when it seems as though others have won over us, regardless if we feel defeated, it is guaranteed that a right spirit always wins. Our suddenly will come. It will come uninvited, without warning, blind siding you, pushing you into darkness, into territory unfamiliar to you. With a right spirit, our suddenly’s become our greatest asset because God always has our best interest at heart.

What keeps us prepared when these suddenly’s come is so important. You want to be ready and we can be. You will suddenly wake up one morning, or run into someone, or get an email, or phone call and  in a moment, your circumstance will begin to work in your favor. You will feel the weight has lifted, doors have swung open and the promises that God had for you all along begin to unfold into a beautiful new awakening. It could take years, but regardless of the length of time, it will be worth the wait, if we are prepared. Don’t give in and fight the suddenly with your ugly flesh wanting desires, God made us to conquer, He made us for more. He wants to live through us, in us and for us but we have an enemy that realizes our potential with God. He will fight us emotionally, spiritually, physically, through our dearest friends and our loved ones, to defeat us. Our greatest enemy is playing havoc with our emotions and thought process and he will send careless people into our lives to derail us and get us off course but God will win when we choose, during these sudden moments in life, to stay calm and let Him fight for us. Continue reading

Dress for Success

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s chosen ones (His own picked representatives), who are purified and holy and well beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, (and) patience (which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these (put on) love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness (which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony). And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts (deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state) to which as (members of Christ’s) one body were also called (to live). And be thankful (appreciative), (giving praise to God always). Colossians 3:12-15

dressI was far from anything that remotely looked anything like humble or patient. My temper was second to none. I could definitely hold my own. I had the lungs in the family as my brothers often reminded me. You never had to guess where I stood on any given subject or what I was thinking. I was not tame. One particular night when my brother was watching us, he stuffed my mouth with a dirty sock and locked me in a closet. I was obnoxious and didn’t know when to keep my mouth shut. No one was going to tell me what to do, how to dress or how to act. I was confidently “Mary Odum.” I was the representative in the family that didn’t put up with unfair treatment. There was one particular time that comes to mind when my sisters came and got me and said, “Mary, you’ve got to help us. Mom is not treating us right and we don’t know what to do.” I took the situation by the reigns, marched right to my mother and said, “we will not put up with this. We aren’t going to tolerate your behavior in this situation, it is unacceptable.” My sisters were quaking in their shoes but not me, I was going to stand my ground. I stood strong, clothed myself with confidence and went straight at the issue and that was the end!

I’ve changed through the years with how I handle my disposition and I approach life situations that need confronted differently, but it was definitely a process to get there. I had to clean out my closet, my heart. I will have to say, that girl is still inside of me, but time has taught me how to properly clothe her.

How we treat others is of upmost importance in the Kingdom of God. God doesn’t tolerate behavior that is hateful, judgemental, angry, mean, ugly or filled with bitterness and un-thankfulness. When we walk around in the molly grubs, with ungrateful hearts, and wear a face that looks like we ate a sour lemon, people will have no tolerance for it. If you are wise, you won’t tolerate it either. It’s just not acceptable. We cannot be raging tornadoes or Debbie downers and expect God to answer us! We can’t make demands and shout out anything that comes to our minds. How we clothe ourselves is so important. Flee from drama, gossip, and anyone who does not represent what they should be as a child of God. It should literally scare us to tolerate behavior like this.

We were made for so much more! We have what it takes to become powerful in the Kingdom of God and in the community around us. When we clothe ourselves with peace it will leave people and lives astounded. Our lives speak so loud without ever saying a word. Our lives are extremely powerful whether we realize that or not. Our actions and behavior are effecting people every single day. Our actions will either be powerful for the good or powerful for the bad but they can’t be both. We have the power to choose! God gives us that distinctive honor to choose how we dress both in our attitudes and in how we present ourselves to the world around us. In the scripture above it is written in the word of God to clothe yourself with perfectness and yet none of us within ourselves are remotely close to being perfect. The only way we can obtain this state of being perfect is deciding that every day we are going to give God the reigns of our life and allow Him to direct and administrate our wardrobes, our lives. He’s given us the greatest honor and privilege in the world to become “like Him.” We have to choose to be clothed like Him and give our hearts whole heartedly to him withholding nothing. When we make this decision, our lives are literally filled with unexplainable peace. We can walk into the most horrendous situations and be filled with peace. God equips us with everything we need to live the life we can only hope to have without Him.

It is said that Mother Theresa lived a life of giving her all, every single day. This comment about her life is noteworthy because at the end of her life she said she felt unfulfilled, empty and lonely. She didn’t have the peace that comes from Him. In one despairing letter to a confident she wrote, “where is my faith – even deep down right in, there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no faith- I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart and make me suffer untold agony.” (https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/mother-teresa). Mother Theresa worked hard many years of her life, advocating for very noteworthy aspirations, but left this world clothed without peace, without that perfect state of mind we are promised in Christ. The greatest thing we can ever do is get into the presence of God and ask Him to clothe us as Colossians 3 encourages us to do. When we do, we will find our purpose but more importantly, we will find the peace of God that He longs to give every one of us. When we find that, it will transform the world around us!

My hot temper didn’t get me anywhere, but looking back, I can see the mercy and hand of God on my life. He brought me to a place of humble appreciation for Him and gave me the discipline to surrender my temper. The trade brought me to a life of prayer, peace and perfect harmony. Choose to clothe yourself as God’s chosen ones, purified, holy and well loved by God. Then watch as He transforms your entire wardrobe to one that will be marked by tenderhearted pity, mercy and kind feelings towards everyone and everything life throws at you. You’ll be grateful you did! It works!

It Wasn’t Easy

Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

The year is marked in history as 1776, the date signifying our freedom as a nation. Long ago men fought fiercely for our freedom. Blood was shed, lives were lost and families left devastated, the price was costly, but it was worth it. We live in a beautiful country today, so much to see and enjoy, all at the cost of freedom. All because men were brave enough to fight to set us free. It was worth it!

Christ came that we would be free indeed. He too had a tremendous price to pay for our sins. It wasn’t easy, it was pain wrenching, His heart broke and stung with agony. But he knew that the outcome would be like none other in all of history, in all of time, nothing would compare to it. We all know it wasn’t easy. Thank God for our freedom! He paid the price and it was worth it!