BUILDING FAITH: a 2020 survival guide


contemplation be still


In this post I am featuring fellow writer Laura Mirriello Campbell. Her thoughtful and vulnerable perspective on the beauty that can be found in this time of social distancing is WELL WORTH the read! There is GREAT value in being still with God especially now. This is a unique opportunity to build our faith in a way that nothing else can. Take it. Revel in it. Celebrate it! Take this time to Build your Faith!


God is our refuge and strength, mighty and impenetrable, a very present help in time of trouble…”Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the Earth.” Ps 46:1, 10 AMP


By Laura Mirello Campbell

Taking a step back. A break. A breather. Social distancing. Whatever you want to call it… it can be a beautiful thing. I have been practicing this for quite a few months now because I have been heart-sick and have been in desperate need of hearing what God would want to speak into the broken places of my heart.

I have been sharply reprimanded by a few people for this. I suppose it’s because some people can’t understand not keeping a full calendar with visits, coffee dates, and luncheons. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these things but I have chosen to be selective in my social engagements.

I think we have become so accustomed to social gatherings and not doing life alone, that we have forgotten that there is a quiet place, and sometimes quiet seasons, where God longs to meet with us and speak/breathe life into the depths of who we are. His desire is to have an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. And sometimes, intimacy requires aloneness.

Think about it… you wouldn’t be intimate with your spouse in front of others, let alone in the midst of a large gathering of people, would you? Of course not… because the intimacy you share/have with your spouse is for you two, alone. It is the time that brings you together as one, it builds and strengthens your relationship. It’s a time when that one person can speak to your heart like no one else.

I believe God desires aloneness with us. I believe He longs to have one on one conversations with us. I believe He wants to speak into the broken places, the dry places, the hurting places, the confused places, the sick places, the addicted places and the anxious places of our hearts like no one else can. But I wonder how many of us can’t hear His call to that secret place because we are so distracted by the noise and priority we have placed on social gatherings?

Now that people all around the world are being forced or cautioned to distance themselves socially… my heart hopes that we will use this time to reconnect with God. That we will find and sit in those secret places of intimacy with Him. I hope we will reconnect with our families. I hope we will be more discerning and be made aware of the needs of others in our communities. I hope that this alone time causes such a deep reach from within that we can’t help but reach out to bless our neighbors by praying for them and with them when possible. Maybe just drop a few necessities on their doorstep or tape cards of encouragement to their storm door.

Aloneness doesn’t always have to mean being alone. It really can mean togetherness. It can speak life and wisdom. It can produce wholeness and healing. It CAN be a beautiful thing.


Find a place to be intimate with the one who loves your soul, deeply and intimately. Take this time when we have been ordered to shelter and take shelter in the one who cares about you with the deepest affection and watches over you carefully (1 Peter5:7 AMP). Build your faith in the One who is unfailingly faithful!

FINDING FAITH; a 2020 survival guide


alex-woods- faith that never fails

Photo by Alex Woods


So how do we find a faith worth taking the leap for?

For me, that faith was found through the actions of another. When someone demonstrated UNDESERVED love to me, it gave me something REAL to put my faith in. I found a faith that will NEVER fail because I found the One whose very nature DEFINES what it is to BE faithful!

For most of us it is easy to love people who love us. However, when we are hurt or betrayed, love becomes a challenge. Loving an enemy seems almost impossible. Everyone experiences times when love is a hard-fought act of will! The thing is, loving others the way God loves us, has the potential to change their lives. My Dad exemplified this kind of love.

My biological father was a violent and abusive alcoholic. My parents were divorced when I was 7. My mother has mental illness issues and suspect taste in men. Following the divorce, a parade of very abusive men came in and out of our lives. By the time I was 12, I had become accustomed to managing the dangers these men posed. When my mom remarried, everything changed.

In my experience, no matter how nice men were in the beginning, abuse was always just a miss-step away, hidden behind the smile. As a result, I was horrible to my mother’s new husband in a way only an abused, distrustful 12-year-old can be. I flatly refused to talk to him. I was deliberately disobedient and spiteful. I encouraged my sisters to be disobedient. Even though I sat next to him at dinner, I wouldn’t look at him or pass food.

After six weeks of silent warfare, I finally condescended to speak. In my most sarcastic voice I asked: ” So what are we supposed to call you? Uncle Chuck?” I grabbed the seat of my chair and braced for the blow I was certain was coming. He met my defiant gaze, and lovingly said: “I don’t know, but I would like it if you called me Dad.”

In that moment I experienced the full weight of God’s grace. I broke! Later that evening I asked my Dad how he could treat me with such love when all I had given him was contempt. In response, he introduced me to the faith that has sustained me through thick and thin; faith in Christ Jesus.

I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I have given my life to God. The relationship that has been forged in this act of faith has enabled me to have hope in whatever situation I find myself in because I know I am not alone. I KNOW that the One who walks beside me is FAITHFUL in ALL things. God is ALWAYS with me guiding, protecting and cherishing me. God is my comfort, my wisdom, my teacher and so much more! He enables me to manage whatever life throws at me and brings good and joy out of it all!


God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:9 AMP (emphasis added)


God is calling us into a relationship , into companionship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. This RELATIONSHIP of faith is open to EVERYONE. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)

FACING FINANCIAL FEAR: a 2020 survival guide

Betsy Oneal2

Photo By Betsy Townsend O’Neal


He said, “I will never leave you under any circumstance, desert you nor give up on you, nor leave you without support, nor will I, in any degree leave you helpless. I will not forsake you or let you down or relax My hold on you, assuredly not!” Heb. 13:5b AMP

We often quote this verse when trying to bring comfort and peace of mind to a people facing a variety of crises; from dealing with illness to managing marital difficulties. Its true that God will never desert us to face any situation alone. But if you look at this verse in context it actually about something VERY specific, money.

Everyone is experiencing the effects of COVID on our finances. Many businesses are temporarily shut down. People have lost their source of income completely. Some effects are more subtle but no less difficult. My husband’s company relies heavily on components from China. As COVID has ravaged China, they can’t get their components. No components, no product to sell. No good.

A survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant stress for 44% of all Americans. Money worries rank as one of the top three causes of marital conflict. Fear over finances can be directly linked to depression and illness. With COVID creating such chaos, the percentage of Americans stressing over money has skyrocketed.

So how do we manage financial worries in this COVID dominated landscape?

1) Know that this is TEMPORARY! Right now, it feels like COVID has taken over the world and will never go away. There will be aftershocks in our finances from earthquake COVID. BUT, the intensity and level of disruption from the current crisis WILL PASS.

2) Know that God will never leave us or forsake us in any degree by leaving us without support. He will NOT let us down or relax His hold on our lives, EVER. He will provide for us. We may not see or understand the means. It may not come in the way we would have imagined. But it WILL come!

“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life for all you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing – everything your body needs…Look at all the birds-do you think they worry about existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father?” Matt 6:25-26 TPT (emphasis added).

God clothes the lilies of the field in unmatched splendor! He clothes the grass that is here today gone tomorrow. If He orders and cares for the world He created for us, WHY would He neglect us? We can trust Him to provide for ALL our needs.

3) We need to be willing to look beyond our own needs to the needs of others. Resist the urge to pull in and horde. When Jesus fed the five thousand, He gave the loaves and fish to the disciples and instructed them to feed the people. He gave the provision. They distributed it. We are Jesus hands and feet on this Earth. God is the provider. We are the stewards.

A wise and good steward takes care of the needs of those within their scope of authority. Jesus returned authority of this Earth to humanity when He died on the cross and rose form the grave. We need to step into that authority and be the stewards God has called us to be. We need to look to the needs of each other and love each other in action! We need to share our surplus and serve without expectation of return.

This crisis won’t last forever. We have the opportunity and privilege to be part of enabling others to come through this and make it to the other side.

FAITH HOPE AND LOVE: A 2020 survival guide

Photo by Virendra Verma from Pexels1

Photo by Virendra Verma


In the last week the major sports have canceled or postponed significant portions of their schedules. Schools have closed. Restaurants and bars have been shut down. Movie releases and production of TV shows have been postponed. I couldn’t have imagined this happening two weeks ago.

Whether you believe this is a real danger or an overreaction, you can’t help but notice the effect it is having on our daily lives. Just try scoring a package of TP! With everything that is happening in our social environment, it is not surprising that it is having an effect on our emotional environment.

We went to Walmart to do our provision shopping. There were just as many people in the store as usual, but the whole store was eerily quiet. I mean 4 am on a Monday night quiet! People were very subdued. They were like shocky crash victims just trying to get a handle on what was happening. Fear is rising. It would be easy to get swept away in its tide.

Everything in nature has its oppositional force; light and dark, cold and hot etc. The spiritual world is no different. We often think that the opposite of fear, is courage. It’s NOT. Courage is a response to fear. Fear’s true opposite is faith. Faith enables us to believe that every situation, crisis, or obstacle is creating fear can be overcome. If we can believe that there is a way to victory, something amazing can happen. Faith can spark hope.

Hope enables us to take our eyes off the waves of crisis and the mountains that stand in our way. When we stop focusing on the situation, we begin to see the things that we can’t see when fear has us fixated on the problem. We can see possibilities and allies. Hope breaks us out of tunnel vision and enables us to get a better perspective on the situation. Getting a new angle can reveal an unseen path around or through the mountain in our way. Getting perspective can temper a crisis enough to enable us to begin formulating solutions.

Hope may seem frail but it has a hidden strength. Like striking a match, hope starts out as a small flame. That small flame may enable another person caught in the darkness of fear to strike their own match. If you have even held one lit match beneath another you know that the resulting flame is taller than the height of the individual flames. Together the flames are greater than the sum of their parts. Hope thrives when we look beyond our fear filled situations and dare to join with others.

The next step out of fear is when faith becomes action. Love is faith in action. If we can risk joining our little flame of hope with others, that combined hope sheds light on the fact that we are not facing this crisis alone. We are joined with other people. We NEED to join together and love our neighbors as ourselves to survive this. Together we have enough light to begin to build tunnels through the mountain and bridges over the crisis.

Love enables us to come together and begin sharing each other’s burdens and fighting alongside each other. Then we can begin creating solutions instead of pulling in and hiding. Instead of hording in our fear filled basements, we can share our surplus. We can step out in faith and believe that others will do the same. When we put faith into action, fear has a way of dissolving like mist in the morning light.

These aren’t just words. If you look around you will see people ARE reaching out. People ARE coming together in small grass roots organizations like KC CARE and Spare a Square to deliver groceries and make hard to find supplies available. Companies like Scholastic are offering free online courses for students whose schools are closed. People are making resources available to maintain social connection. Teachers are offering digital office hours for kids to check in and chat with each other. Artists are using Facebook to do art classes for kids stuck at home.

People are gathering together in online groups offering practical solutions to the difficulties occasioned by realities this virus. They are offering encouragement, prayer and a listening ear. They are offering matches to illuminate the darkness of fear with the light of hope. They are loving their neighbor as themselves! When Love becomes faith in action, it’s more than just pretty words. It’s the opposing force to fear that gets us over crisis and through obstacles. It becomes the faith that saves us!
If you are in the Kansas City area and need help or can offer help PLEASE visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/spareasquare/

THE HOPE IN DEATH

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels 1APhoto by Irina Iriser


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


Beyond the pain of loss, beyond the tumult of grief, there is death. When it comes, it is important to know that there IS HOPE, even in death.

Yes, death is a school yard bully threatening everyone and everything. It’s the great equalizer, the ONE thing that every living thing on Earth has in common. At some point, we will all die. It’s not a matter of if, only when. It’s part of what makes death seem so hopeless. The end of everything is death. But, is death the end? Standing grave side, watching the casket being lowered into the ground, death can truly feel like the end. There is nothing that looks more like the end than watching the ashes of your loved one scatter on the wind.

It was disobedience that brought death into the world.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Gen. 1:1). He called light into being and divided the waters above and below. He set the boundaries of the ocean and let dry land appear. He caused plants to grow and filled the expanse of heaven with the sun, moon and stars. He filled the air and the seas with life. He called the Earth to bring forth living creatures. Then, with His own hands He fashioned humanity from the dirt. God breathed His own breath into their lungs and gave them life.

When He was done, He placed humanity in a garden paradise. God gave the fruit of every tree in the garden to them, with one exception. God told them never to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He told the man that if they ate from that tree they would die. They disobeyed. Through their sin, death entered creation and was given authority over the earth and everything in it.

So, does death have the final word?

Thankfully NO. Jesus has defeated death!

Sin and death were brought into the world through the disobedience of one man. So, one man, Jesus, came to Earth to conquer sin and death for all time. He willingly gave up His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and end the reign of death. His sacrifice brought freedom from sin and death to all who acknowledge Him as Lord and place their faith and trust in Him. Because of this there is hope even in death!

Death is not the end. When this physical life ends, our souls continue. As a Christian, I have the assurance that death is only a passage into life eternal with God. If those I love acknowledge Christ as Lord and place their faith and trust in Him, death cannot rob me of them. They are safely in God’s loving embrace. I have the promise that I will be reunited with them someday! I will see them again!

This HOPE is available to every person ever born. HOPE begins with acknowledging that we are sinners. We have all sinned. We all do things that are wrong, things we are ashamed of, things we regret. In moments of anger or temptation we do things we know we should not do. We lie to avoid responsibility. We lust after things that won’t bring satisfaction or covet that which belongs to others.

This sin separates us from the HOPE Christ Jesus died to give us. If we acknowledge our sin and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and be Lord of our lives, our sin is wiped away. Our slate is cleaned by the blood of Christ. We are given both life abundant and life eternal. We come to know the one who provides HOPE EVEN IN DEATH!

If this is a hope you would like to have, it is available to all for the asking. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)

If you prayed this prayer, feel free to contact me at tamellakwhite@gmail.com. I will be happy to guide you in learning more about the one who loves you enough to die for your sins and mine. God bless!

Tamella

STANDING IN THE FLAMES: Surviving the Pain of Loss

heart-shaped- POL


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


The pain of loss can feel like a consuming fire. It burns through everything that made the relationship with our loved one joyous and meaningful. When my Dad died, my whole world felt like a giant bonfire of grief.

His life was woven through every aspect of mine. Every day was a fresh reminder of my loss. A song would play that reminded me of him and the tears would flow. I would need advice and catch myself picking up the phone to call him, only to remember that there is no phone made that would reach him. Activities that used to bring me joy like; looking at family photos, playing cribbage or going out for coffee, became painful reminders of my loss. His birthday and holidays were especially hard reminders of his absence.  

Eventually the pain of loss burns off and is replaced by the warm embers of the love we shared. But how do we survive the flames in the meantime? If grief enables us to get from the pain of loss to a place where we can cherish the memory of our loved ones, how do we stand in the flames without being consumed? When the flames of my recent loss threaten to overwhelm me, I remind myself that others have faced the flames and survived.

When he was King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar built a 90-foot idol. He commanded that all people should fall down and worship his idol. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to submit because they were committed to worshiping God alone. Nebuchadnezzar warned “if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood fast in their refusal. So Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be thrown into a furnace so hot that it killed the soldiers who brought them to the entrance. Yet, when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the flames, instead of seeing three men burning to death, he saw four men “walking in the mists of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the fourth is like the Son of God!” (Daniel 3:25)

The pain of loss boasts that there is none who can deliver us from its consuming fire. Yet, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t need to fear Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, we needn’t fear the pain of loss. When the death of a loved one threatens to cast us into the furnace, we can be certain of two things; the flames will not consume us and we will not be in the furnace alone! Jesus is in the fire with us, protecting and preserving us through the flames!

Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 AMP)

That truly means wherever we go! Even through the flames of loss, God is walking right beside us like a shepherd guiding and protecting His sheep from all harm. He will guide us safely through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’ I used to think that just meant that God is with us when we are facing our own death. What I have come to understand is that God is with us whenever death appears on our horizon. He is with us in the valley of the shadow of death when that shadow is a negative diagnosis. He is with us at the bedside of a dying friend. He is with us when a loved one takes their own life. He is beside us when the valley we are traveling through is grieving for a loved one who has passed from this world to the next.

As we stand in the flames of the pain of loss, He is the shield that preserves us until those flames burn down and our memories become the embers that warm our hearts with the love of the person who has passed on. So be strong and courageous in the midst of the pain of loss. Do not be dismayed because we are not facing that pain alone. The God who cares for us affectionately and cares about us watchfully will cover us with His wing until the flames die down, because they WILL die down! God is with us every step of the way through that valley of the shadow of death. Be assured, we will travel safely through the flames.

© TamellaWhite 2020

THE GIFT OF GRIEF


Photo by Ylanite Koppens

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels 1A


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


The gift of grief?

It seems like a contradiction of terms. After all, how can something that makes you feel like your heart is being ripped from your chest, be a gift? Few things wound us as deeply as the death of a loved one. Losing someone we love is like having a hole carved out of our hearts. When grief is a welling pit of pain and sorrow, it is really hard to see it as a gift. None the less, that is exactly what it is.

I recently heard a sermon on the importance of perspective. The pastor suggested that the thing we need most when we feel completely crushed by the weight of our problems, is a change of perspective. When life threatens to overwhelm us, we need to get our eyes off the problem and onto the creator of the universe. When we recognize that the one who stretched out the expanse of the heavens and formed the foundations of the earth, is at work on our behalf, then our whole outlook changes. The same is true of grief. When it feels like our heart is being ripped out of our chest and put through a meat grinder, what we need most is a change of perspective.

105 people die every minute. That is a staggering statistic. But it is more than a statistic. It represents real people, with real families just like ours. Yet as sobering and sad as it is to think that every minute the families of 105 people are experiencing the pain of loss, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact on us as the death of our loved one. Why not? Are we cold uncaring people? No. We are not impacted in the same way by the death of those 105 people, because we don’t have a relationship with them. This is where a change in perspective comes in.

The reason we grieve is we had a relationship with the person we lost. We did life together. We shared experiences. We laughed and cried together. We fought with each other. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We had each other’s backs. We grieve because their presence in our life had an impact on us. They were a part of the fabric of our lives. Without them our lives would have been much different. That is why we grieve. While we may be sad for strangers whose lives have ended, we only grieve for people who were an important part of our lives.

At first grief feels like an uncontrolled prairie fire, blazing through everything in its path. When the loss is fresh, the pain of it threatens to consume us. It feeds on our energy, thoughts, even our memories. It seems to draw strength and stamina from the experiences we shared with our loved one. In the first stages of grief, it can feel like everything we shared with that person is being devoured by the flames. As time passes, the pain of loss burns off and what remains are the warm embers of the love we shared. Our grief is a gift because, it enables us to get from the pain of loss to the place where we can cherish the memory of that person and carry them with us always.

If we are grieving, it means we had someone special in our lives. Someone with whom we shared a meaningful relationship. Losing them is painful beyond words. However, the same thing that causes us such pain at their loss is what makes them an enduring and indelible part of our lives. If we are grieving, it means they mattered! They left a permanent mark on our lives. It means we made a real and lasting connection! One that cannot be broken, even by death. Grief is a gift because it affirms their value. It honors who that person was. Grief enables us to continue to hold them close emotionally even if we have lost them physically. As long as we cherish their memory and hold them close to our hearts, they will always be with us. Grief enables us to do just that.

That is the gift of Grief!

© TamellaWhite 2020

HEALING THE WOUNDS

Picture by Raphael Brasileiro

Photo by Raphael Brasileiro from Pexels


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


I sat in church listening to family and friends recount moments in a life that ended way too soon. I was struck by the impact that we have on each other. Whether for good or bad, intended or unintentional, we all leave an indelible mark of our passage through life.

People commit suicide for a lot of reasons. They believe the people they love will be better off without them or that no one will notice their passing. They end their lives because they believe the pain is just too much or they just can’t face another day of the darkness that has consumed their world. I do not know what was in my nephew’s mind when he ended his life. I do know the crater his passing left behind. It left a raw and open wound.

The human body is an amazing thing. When we cut a muscle, the body responds by building up scar tissue to repair it. Scar tissue brings the muscle back together and reinforces it for future use. It’s a good plan. However, if the area is injured again, it will build up more scar tissue. Unfortunately, repeated injuries can cause so much scar tissue to build up that the muscle is no longer able to function correctly. When that happens, a surgeon must go in and remove the scar tissue.

Few families make it through life without developing some scar tissue. For some families that scar tissue gets layered on one injury after another, until the family is no longer able to function correctly. These injuries are intentional and unintentional. Some are the result of generational patterns of dysfunction, or the byproducts of addiction or mental illness. Whatever the source, these injuries leave family members distant and disconnected. Hearts can build up so much scar tissue that individuals become resentful and embittered. If unforgiveness sets in, the death of relationships follow in short order.

Because death has such a significant impact, there is an unparalleled vulnerability at a funeral. When deeply scarred families come together to celebrate a life and mourn a death, something extraordinary can happen. It doesn’t seem to matter if our relationship with the deceased was a positive or negative one. The loss of a family member leaves a wound. As painful as this wound is, it comes with an unexpected benefit. It can be the forerunner of healing.

The pain of death opens us up as effectively as a surgeon’s scalpel. God promises to work all things, even the pain of death, together for our good and His glory. If we allow it, God can use this open wound as an opportunity to cut away deadly scar tissue. Like a divine surgeon, God can remove layers of built up scar tissue in order to restore healthy function to a family.

This surgery requires our consent. We have to be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven. We have to love in a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of way; patiently, kindly and thoughtfully, without jealousy, pride or arrogance. We have to give a love that is not self-seeking, a love that is not easily angered. We cannot take into account the wrongs we have endured. (If we do, justice would require us to keep a record of wrongs we have done.)

“Love bears all things regardless of what comes, believes all things looking for the best in each other, hopes all things remaining steadfast during difficult times, and endures all things without weakening” (1 Cor 13:7 AMP).

We can’t love this way in our own strength. Love like this requires us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. It comes out of the love and grace God gave to us when He offered up His Son as payment for our sins. While we were still God’s enemies, He chose to reconcile us to Himself through the death of His Son. When we let God love through us, the same love that heals, restores and transforms us, can heal, restore and transform every relationship in our lives. It can even resurrect relationships that have been strangled to death by too much scar tissue. Healing is possible. Will we give our consent?

© Tamella White 2020

 

THAT WHICH CAN NOT BE LOST

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I have departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith. I found out recently that my 32-year-old nephew took his own life. I hope you will indulge some reflections on grief and loss. This is dedicated to the women in my Cross Points Church group who embody the principals of living and loving openheartedly! Thank you ladies!


 

There are days that remind us poignantly of the fragility of life. The death of a loved one is like an unexpected gut punch that leaves us doubled over, unable to breath. We find ourselves holding the hand of someone who is so overwhelmed, all they can do is stare blankly in disbelief. When loss comes, we come face to face with how tender the cord of life really is. How easily it is cut. How deeply the pain of loss cuts in return.

In those moments that leave us gasping for breath, it is all too easy to run to a dark place. A place where we can pull the covers over our heads and wail. A place where fear whispers that any life can be pulled away without a moment’s notice. The tenuous nature of life and the pain of death, especially a death of one so young, can lead us to believe that the best thing we can do is to pull in and shield ourselves. We may want to gather those we love close and build walls of protection around them. After all, if we wall ourselves off, everyone will remain safe and alive. Right?!

This is a LIE! It is a false sense of security that leaves us completely vulnerable!

When we try to insulate ourselves from pain and loss, we end up isolating ourselves from the people we love. We cut ourselves off from intimacy with the people who matter the most. In addition, we lose the love, support and comfort that helps to sustain us all through the difficulties of life. Similarly, when we try to put walls around our loved ones to protect them, we cut them off from life. We end up preventing them from being and becoming what God designed them to be. We cut them off from fulfilling God’s call on their lives. This is how we lose people.

Maybe that is a small part of what Jesus meant when He said if you want to save your life you must lose it. To truly live, to love and be loved, to fulfill God’s call on our lives, we have to be willing to accept risk and loss. We have to be willing to let go of our personal, emotional safety in order to truly connect with others and share all that life done together has to give.

Being fully present and emotionally available does mean we will experience pain when people die. But the thing is, we will face that pain either way. At least if we are open, if we haven’t insulated and isolated ourselves, we will have the fullness of all we shared while they were alive. We might even be able to catch them before they fall victim to despair and suicide. *

The way we survive loss is not by insulating or isolating ourselves and those we love. Rather it is by giving ourselves wholly to others, without holding back. It’s by coming along side others. Rejoicing when they rejoice. Grieving when they grieve. When we bear each other’s burdens and truly care for the people in our lives, we build the very structures that enable us all to survive whatever comes.

Rather than building walls, we need to live and love the way Jesus did. We need to love openheartedly, authentically, and without fear. We must give of ourselves without concern for future hurt or loss. We need to love joyfully and forgive willingly. Like the good Samaritan, we should reach out to and minister to others without care for the cost or repayment. Jesus didn’t concern himself with what He might lose. He focused on living the life and facing the death to which God called Him.

This is one of the reasons I am so encouraged by the empty cross. It proves that a life of obedience to God, lived in openhearted love with and for others, wins! We need to be willing “to lose that which cannot be kept, in order to gain that which cannot be lost.” People are going to die. We cannot change that. However, if we love them vulnerably, if we give ourselves to them fully, if we open ourselves to the risk of loss, what we experience in the life we live together can never be taken away, even by death.

*We may do everything humanly possible to prevent a loved one from committing suicide and still lose them. Depression is a chemical imbalance that often requires medical intervention. If we lose a loved one to suicide it is not our fault. God is the only one who can truly save a life. If you know someone who is suicidal or need to talk to someone right away, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

© TamellaWhite 2019

THE LAW OF GRAVITY

 

2902947724_cedd2eedca_b (3)I stood frozen in fear, 25 feet above the river, arguing with myself about what to do. I could climb back over the railing and try to sneak, unnoticed, back to my picnic spot. That could result in falling backward off the bridge. I could jump. After all that is what I had come up here to do. Unfortunately, I had looked down. As a result, my body was not on board with that plan. I briefly toyed with remaining fixed to the railing. While my body was on board with this, my brain knew it was unrealistic. In the end I came to the conclusion I had to let go of the railing one way or another.

I say conclusion because this was not a decision. Making a decision implies that I had settled on a course of action. The realization that I had to let go of the railing was far from a decision to either climb back over or to jump. It was merely a concession that doing something was better than doing nothing. I let go of the railing and stepped tentatively out over the edge. As soon as I shifted my weight doubt screamed out;

“STOP!! YOU DON’T WANT TO DO THIS!!”

It’s called the law of gravity for a reason. It’s not a suggestion or something that can be suspended because you have thought better of testing its dynamic properties. It’s a LAW! Once you traverse the line between the edge and what lies beyond, there is no going back. The momentary doubt that caused my brain to scream its objection to the action my body was taking meant that I fell off the bridge rather than jumping. Make no mistake, there is a distinct difference. The most important difference, is the quality of the landing.

Taking a risk in a state ruled by fear and doubt is ALWAYS a recipe for trouble. Fear leads to doubt. Doubt steals our confidence and conviction, and strips away our faith. In addition, acting in a state ruled by doubt limits our options when we do take action. This rarely ends well. If we take a leap of faith in a state ruled by fear and doubt, the only thing we can do is curl up in a ball and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much. The intense pain that burst through my body as I hit the water reminded me just how destructive fear and doubt can be.

The same holds true for matters of faith. Whatever motivates our decision, be it determination or desperation, we should never underestimate the gravity of taking a leap of faith. Doubt and fear are enemies we must face and overcome. Stepping out in faith with doubt in our hearts may lead to a hesitancy that prevents us from fully committing. That hesitancy can cause us to fall out of control and miss the landing God has prepared for us. Whatever we are believing for, taking a leap of faith is not something that can be done halfheartedly or half way. When it comes to a leap of faith, the Law of gravity dictates that we do it with 100% commitment and conviction. Once our feet leave that edge there is no going back. Second guessing ourselves in mid-air can have very painful consequences.

© Tamella White 2019