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Monday, June 18, 2018

But, If, Then, So.


Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. Abraham Joshua Heschel


Hanging perfectly positioned to catch my eye as I entered the store was a lovely summer dress. My intention, however, was not to find a dress for myself, but to find something to spend my $15.00 bonus coupons on before their expiration date. That was today. I had even planned my auto service appointment around it.

Street scene reflections obscure the view of a dress in the window.

The qualifications for the use of this little bonus were either something needed for the household, or a gift for someone else. I was in the blessed position of not needing any clothes and as my husband had so objectively stated, the great-grand darling didn’t need any either. But $15 should not go to waste, I reasoned.

I walked by the dress and scanned the other departments, arriving at the toddler section with Christmas in mind. Finding a pretty appliqued top and printed leggings two sizes larger than her current size would work. My total expenditure would be a mere $6.99 after the coupons. I would be satisfied with that.

Nevertheless, the dress hung there tempting me at 30% off. I could certainly live without it, but the additional $15 off made it even more reasonable. If I felt I'd made a mistake, I could return it for a refund. That's what the grace of God is about. So, it went with me to the register along with the toddler outfit.

I’d only spent $48.98, but I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t wanted to spend any money on anything I didn’t need, especially this summer, when my income had dropped so dramatically.

In the dealership lounge I had a chance to check through my email and found a code for an additional 25% off at the same store. That would bring the total price of both items down to $32.99. Still, I felt uneasy. If I took both items back, would I lose my $15 bonus altogether?

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” the cashier said of the bonus coupons; they could not be applied to another purchase. Furthermore, I could not have used the additional 25% off in combination with them.

Unable to accept that as the final answer yet, I decided to return my purchases to the store near home and settled the matter with the Lord on the way. By now, both items had lost their value to me. Indeed, they would both go back. Neither I nor the little one lacked anything, except peace. “Thank you for loving me so. Thank you for disciplining me,” I whispered from a heart of contentment.

It would have been nice to have a “do-over,” but I knew He was abundantly capable of providing that and ever so much more. The $15 did not go to waste after all. It was a bargain price for peace.

 --

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. Job 5:17 NIV

All discipline seems for the moment painful, not joyful; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11 NHB

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. I Timothy 6:6-8 NAS

An excerpt from 
While it Is Called Today
A 30-day Photo Devotional
by Dee Marvin Emeigh

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Purpose for the Pain?




One word
Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.
- SOPHOCLES, Oedipus at Colonus
 


We’ve all seen it, but we may not have liked it or wanted to accept it. I know I didn’t. It says, “God has a purpose for your pain,” or something like that. 

To my way of thinking, the inference is that God planned for you to be in pain in order to accomplish His purpose. I didn’t like that inference.

That is not to say that pain is a bad thing, necessarily.  It feels bad, but it does have a purpose. 
The old mill served its purpose at one time.


Usually, it’s to let you know something is wrong. Take, for example, the case of the horrific pain of a gall bladder attack, like the one my husband had recently. If you don’t do something about it soon, you are going to be in serious trouble. 

Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, pain lets us know that we are alive. It may also mean something has to go. Like the gall bladder. 

But, what if the pain is associated with something we have loved and guarded, like a relationship or a dream we have had? Maybe it’s something we had hoped to do with our life that may now seem impossible. Then, we tend to hold on in spite of the pain. 

We may eventually come to realize that letting go is the only humane choice. Either it dies or we do. 

We have tried everything to keep it alive, but it is time to put it out of its misery. So, we pull the plug at last, knowing deep down inside, only a miracle can save it; only God can breathe life into it. If He doesn’t, it’s for the best. There is no pain in death.

Only then do we begin to understand the real purpose. It was to extricate us from the thing we held on to so tightly He had to pry our grip loose. We thought we would die without it. We didn’t.

He was merciful to allow us to keep it for as long as we did. We needed something to hold on to and He let us hold it. The pain was to let us know we could not keep it any longer.  We were the only thing keeping it alive. Then, like a mother does with an unborn babe, we carried it to its time. The pain came and we delivered. What we carried now lives a different life. The pain served its purpose and is gone.



We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 HCSB).
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 NAS).  This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has revived me (Psalm 119:50 New Heart English Bible).


He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4 NLT).
 

Excerpt from While it Is Called Today 
a 30-day photo-devotional
by Dee Marvin Emeigh