I was running a few weeks ago and a guy handed me a little card that read “Good people go to hell”. Immediately I knew this was a religious handout undoubtedly using a ‘scare tactic’ to win people for Christ. Well, this just made me furious…and my already high running heart rate just climbed higher. And to the random man on the street with the handout…thank you for a little more aggressive cardio workout that particular morning!
Good people go to hell…really? I would really like someone to define good for me. Actually while you’re at it…go ahead and define bad for me too. Maybe Santa can define good?…because he actually does have a “nice” and “naughty” list. God’s “list” is a bit different though.. And I’m tired of people trying to scare others to believe in Christ. My faith is SO much more than fear.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
And in fact, my faith has nothing to do with being good or bad. It has to do with being human. It has to do with love. And forgiveness. And a relationship.
Several weeks ago one of the pastors at my church was speaking about the relationship you have in Christ and how that relationship motivates you to action (i.e. following "the rules"). As Christians, our faith is often perceived to be about rules…following and breaking rules. Now don’t get me wrong, I love rules. I love making them and yes, sometimes I like breaking them too. But my faith isn’t about rules. It’s about a relationship. (And it's a darn good thing it's not about rules...because I would be sure out of luck!)
God recognizes we are all human—good, bad and ugly --and He has this amazing vision of what life should be. Unfortunately our ‘humanness’ gets in the way of His perfect vision. Here enters Jesus…to stand in our place so one day we get to experience God’s perfection in Heaven. This isn’t about rules, it’s about love. A love that none of us can even comprehend because it is that BIG.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So when I get on my knees and pray for those people around me to believe, I don’t pray so they will be “good”. (Just for the record, I don't pray that they will be 'bad' either! Just wanted to clear that up!). I don’t pray that they will wake up and start following a long list of rules. I don’t pray that they will fear going to hell and seek out Christ.
I pray one day they will get to experience this amazing relationship with God. And feel what forgiveness is like. And unconditional love. And grace. And mercy. Because these are the things of my faith and this is what my relationship with God is like: I fail, He forgives, I try really hard but fail again, He forgives again and again and again. He demonstrates an unconditional love that cannot be expressed in words. I pray those around me will get to experience the perfection God intended one day in Heaven.
I’m so incredibly thankful my faith isn’t about the rules…because I would fail miserably. His love on the other hand…His love is my faith.
Failing, forgiving, and loving,
Every year I send a gift to a woman going through a divorce. For me, it’s a way to spread love and not hold onto hatred from my own past experience. So each year I pray God crosses my path with a woman in need of a little encouragement as she faces this tough road. For me, it’s a way to give thanks for each day I’m not trapped in a bad situation, a way to look forward to another year and a way to share a little hope. And it serves as a reminder of how incredibly thankful I am for all my blessings in disguise. I would not be where I am today without the experience of a painful divorce. And God continues to fill my life with blessings I never imagined I would have. So sharing a little hope with someone else is the least I can do to honor God and all the blessings He has given me. I never sign my name to the gift because it really isn’t from me…it is only God using me to bless another woman.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
This year I got to send a gift to a long, lost childhood friend who I haven’t even spoken to in 15 years. Her husband decided to announce he would be leaving her via Facebook. I cannot imagine the heartbreak and betrayal this dear friend must feel in her heart. I’m so thankful to think I might be able to bring one small, brief smile to her face during this dark time. And I pray for her and her husband because there just has to be a whole lot of pain between the two of them for things to end via Facebook.
Anyway, this small act of blessing another woman has brought me such joy that I have started doing it on a regular basis. When I am having a bad day, I try to do something kind for another person. Like last week when I felt like nothing was going smoothly for me, I gave up and spent the day writing letters of recommendations for my team members at work! I got to spend several hours writing school recommendations and exemplars for coworkers that go above and beyond their call of duty. I spent time just reflecting on how awesome the people that I get to work alongside everyday really are. And it truly lifted my spirit. (Honestly…this week hasn’t kicked off to a great start either so it’s likely someone will be blessed!). I do these random acts of kindness at other times in my life too. For example, when I am really worried about money, I try to buy someone else something. A coffee, lunch, drinks...just something that reminds me how much I have and how little I actually need. It helps keep things in perspective for me. And helps me learn to be thankful. It’s amazing how much focusing on helping another person changes your perspective for the better.
So when you are exhausted and spent, learn to serve others.
When you are sad and heartbroken, take a minute to lift someone else up.
When you are down and out, find a way to bless another.
It is just a small way to set your problems, your challenges, and your feelings aside and instead focus on being a blessing to someone else. It’s one way to spread a little love in a world desperately in need of it.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Let all that you do be done in love.
Love, hope and random acts of kindness,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.