All that I need

All that you need is within you.

That’s a powerful and often misleading statement of truth. When I look within for “my power” I am in danger of seeing what I can do and where I can go. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? There’s a whole lot wrong with that. When I look within and see only myself as the source of my power, of my wisdom, my help then I am terribly shortsighted – and vain.

All that I need is within me – in the form of the Holy Spirit. When I look within and see God as the source of my power, my wisdom, my everything, only then can I truly live. Unless God gifts me the courage to face each day, to make decisions – large and small, to be kind and compassionate and patient – I would be incapable of doing anything worthwhile.

Ultimately there is only one thing I take with me to my grave, and that is my spirit – the part of me that is part of God. Oh, I can die with unforgiveness, regret, anger, etc., but even that will burn up in the Presence of a Most Holy God. But why would I want to carry those things to my last bed? Why would I want to live my life with those rocks tied to my ankles, slowing my pace and altering my path?

Without God dwelling in the midst of me, I will meet death with those rocks weighing me down. Without God in the deepest places of my heart and soul, I am moving through this life with no hope of anything better.

All that I need is within me. God is within me.

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you, Whom you have received from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19

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Who is to blame?

The other day I took Toby to the vet; he’d recently been diagnosed with diabetes and while I had hoped to be able to regulate his blood sugar with his diet, after checking his sugar levels (which were extremely high – higher than his first visit) his doctor said he’d have to go on insulin. The vet also discussed other health issues he was having and a couple of potential issues. I had a few teary moments in the office but I tried to stay focused and took notes because I knew I wouldn’t remember most of what she said. She gave him his first shot of insulin and a shot of antibiotics. I made an appointment for the following week and took him home.

Other than the teariness I felt in the vet’s office, I haven’t really felt any emotion about the whole thing. Until this morning. This morning I realized I am angry. I’m not mad at Toby – he’s just a cat and has no control over the way his body metabolizes his food. I was angry at the vet he saw first – but I realize now the fierceness of the anger I felt was anger-misplaced. She gave me bad news. She had a bad bedside manner. Somewhere inside I must have thought it was her fault.

His vet, Dr. U, has a wonderful way with Toby and she gave me worse news. And I’m still mad.

Who can I be mad at? God? It’s not His fault either.

It’s no one’s fault.

But I’m still mad. Who can I be mad at? No one. And that’s hard. I want someone to blame. Someone to get mad at. Someone to shake my fist and scream at. Someone to ask ‘Why?’. Why did you do this thing, this terrible thing, to my precious cat? Why did you give him this terrible disease? Why? Why? Why?

I suppose the only thing I can do now is sit with the anger and pray for release.

Release from the anger and sorrow. I accept what’s happened to him. I just don’t like it. And I don’t know how to live with the pain I feel deep in my heart. I love Toby. If you’re not a ‘cat-person’ then you don’t know how deeply a furry creature can dig its claws into your heart and not let go, so that every possible pain they feel, you feel.

Maybe I need a good, old-fashioned cry. Maybe I need to hold him tight, bury my face in his fur and be grateful for every moment I have with him. Maybe I need to trust God. Maybe I just don’t know what to do now. And since I don’t know what to do, I’ll pray.

No take backs

A few years back I worked at a public transport location in another city not to far from where I live. I was inside the building, inside the information booth when I started hearing someone yelling. Nothing new there – anyone who works in the public sector knows all sorts of yelling can go on whenever strangers are thrown together. Eventually I went outside to see what was happening – did I need to call the police? I had to do that occasionally so my phone and 911 were at my fingertips.

Outside the building, on the sidewalk stood a middle-aged woman, average dress, average height, average everything except she was carrying a gianormous stick (think staff, or shepherd’s crook without the crook) in one hand and a well-worn Bible in the other. She was shouting out “Repent and be saved!” and Bible verses like John 3:16 (For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.) She wasn’t garnering any attention; the busy hub was filled with people going about their daily business, completely ignoring her. I left her alone and went back inside. I did have a couple of complaints about her but as long as she wasn’t preaching inside the building, she was free to do as she wanted (within the law, of course).

My first reaction was actually a smirk and some snarky thought crossed my mind. Immediately I remembered a teaching from the mega-church I had attended and left so many years before. The teaching was that when God inspires/tells someone to do something – no matter how ridiculous it may seem to me – who am I to judge that believer? They are doing what they believe God has called them to do and as long as no person or creature is harmed, how can I possibly know if it’s of God or not? Do I know the mind of God? Do I have the wisdom of the ages or some special insight into God’s workings with His children? No, and no.

This teaching, which I frequently remember as I am prone to judging other believers and how they represent God, came about during the 80’s when there were quite a few scandals involving Evangelistic preachers (Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, and Ernest Angley come to mind). The minister of my church had overheard some members making fun of those preachers, mocking them and criticizing them. Whatever sermon he had pre-prepared went out the window because by the time he got to the pulpit that morning he was so angry he blew holes in the back of the church with his words of chastisement for his flock. And rightly so. I can say that because I was one of the ones involved and had to seek forgiveness for my judgmental actions.

The point of the teaching is that once God has given a gift to someone, He doesn’t take it back. When God calls a someone to preach or be a prophet or a healer or teacher, and he strays (as we all do) or she stands on the street corner ‘acting a fool for God’, God isn’t ashamed or embarrassed by them; He continues to love them and bless them and their gift remains with them – no matter how they use it.

Instead of judging or mocking another believer for how they interpret the workings of God in their life, pray for them – that God will continue to bless them and that through their efforts others are brought back into the arms of God.