Monday, July 14, 2008

Leaving the City of Regret

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking about my annual "Guilt Trip."

I got tickets to fly there on Wish-I-Had Airlines. It was an extremely short flight. I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the Regret City International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town.

As I checked into the Last Resort Hotel, I noticed that they would be hosting this year's more important event, the Annual Pity Party. I wasn't going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the town's leading citizens would be there.

First, there would be the Done family - you know, Should Have Done, Would Have Done, and Could Have Done. Then came the I Had family. You probably know Wish I Had and his clan. Of course, the Opportunities would be present, Missed and Lost.

The biggest family would be the Yesterdays. There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share.

Then Shattered Dreams would surely make an appearance. And It's Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in his life. Each story would be loudly applauded by Don't Blame Me and I Couldn't Help It.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occured to me that the remainder of this trip and subsequent "pity parties" could be canceled by ME. I started to realize that I did not have to be there. I didn't have to be depressed.

happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left the City of Regret immediately and left no forwarding address. Am I sorry for the mistakes I've made in the past? Yes! But there is no physical way to undo them.

So, if you're planning a trip back to the City of Regret, please cancel all your reservations now. Instead, take a trip to Starting Again. I did, and I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there. My neighbors, the I Forgive Myselfs and the New Starts, are very helpful. By the way, you don't have to carry around heavy baggage, because the load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival.

God bless you in finding this great town. If you can find it - it's in your own heart - please look me up! I live on I Can Do It St.

- by Larry Harp

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amazing Love

As I may have mentioned before, I love Rob Bell's videos.

I just watched one entitled "You," that ended with a great quote and such an important concept.

"Broken, flawed, vulnerable people like you and me are invited to be the hands and feet of a Jesus who loves us EXACTLY as we are, and yet loves us WAY too much to let us stay that way."

I was having a conversation tonight with a non-believer about what it was that happened 4 months ago and how it was that I came to believe in Christianity, as opposed to any other religion; as he described it, they're all "basically the same."

There are two parts to the answer, though. How I came to Christianity I've explain here before, but to really hone it down to a sentence, God had been giving me opportunities to see Him before, but he gave me an opportunity that was impossible not to see. And as I told him, once you open your eyes a bit to be able to see God, you realize it's impossible not to see Him everywhere, in everything.

As for the Why Christianity? question... To know that there is a God, and that God loves me so incredibly much, and will continue to love me that much no matter who I am or what I do, because He created me perfectly to be me, exactly as I am; well, how can one not find an immense and overwhelming peace in that? To know that in any struggle, God is there. With every good moment and low moment, God is there. Not only is He there, but He provides these things to me, the good AND the bad, as gifts. Everything is an experience that will shape and mold my heart into what He wishes for me, and even through the most difficult times, I can't help but be thankful for the life I've been given.

If there is anything I want to know how to do better, it's to be able to describe and demonstrate effectively the grace that I've gotten in my life, because it's given meaning to the word salvation. The Lord has filled a huge void in me that I hadn't even realized that I had. There is more power in truly knowing the love we have from the Creator of all things than in any amount of money or success or popularity or strength or any other worldly concept. I wish that everyone could feel what I feel.

I have a hard time understanding what is in another person's heart sometimes. A lot of the time I'm more confused by a fellow Christian than I am of a non-believer. I feel as though the majority of Christians I come in contact with go through the motions, or say the right words, or put the right bumper sticker on their car, but don't seriously know what it means to be a follower of Christ. Even something as simple as a question, like what are the 6 things you absolutely need in your life? It seems like for every Christian that lists God in one of their 6 (sometimes last! Can you imagine?) there are 15 who apparently don't think God ranks as highly as music, friends, or their cell phone. I can't begin to imagine their reasoning.

God gives us limitless opportunities to know Him, and it's up to us to extend our hand and our heart. But man, once you let Him into your heart, that all-consuming love makes anything possible.

Lord, your grace is just so amazing, and I am so in awe of the way you can change the hard heart of a stubborn girl like me. I know if you can break down my barriers, you can do it for anyone, and I just pray that other people will be able to get to know You the way I do. You make anything possible, I'm forever grateful for every step I take with you. My heart belongs to you Jesus and I only hope I can continue to be your voice and hands and feet so that others can be able to hang out in your kingdom and have the peace that I've come to know. There's no better place. In your name I pray. Amen.

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