My Gratitude Journal: A Slice from The Heart: – is a Spirit-guided ‘heart project’ that exposes the plague in my own heart. After a broken-world experience and now living in a broken-world, this soul-enriching journey to make peace with God is a conversation within the labyrinth of my soul and the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. It reflects the weight of conviction through repentance to God. The theme for this journey is taken from 1 Kings 8:38-39 “…which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest.”
This journey will only be complete when I can cry out to God like king David of Israel in Psalm 57: 7-8: My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and make music. I will AWAKEN THE DAWN. Thank you for your company.
Friday, January 30
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh, yesterday came suddenly. – Yesterday; John Lennon & Paul McCartney
It has been three weeks since I last wrote down the conversations I have had with my soul. The reason for this ‘silence’ was because I found myself still living in the yesterday of my life. 2014 was just three weeks away but there is a shadow hanging over me and I find myself still struggling to see the reality of the plague in my own heart and fearful of what today might bring. Just yesterday I was reminded how fragile time can be and how easy it is to allow a moment of weakness to suddenly take over and the shadow of myself begins to take on a life of its own and suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be at the beginning of the day.
‘Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be’: This is a fact of life. Because of the dark areas of our lives, the areas below the waterline that no one can see but God, we become half human and half spiritual when we allow the shadow of death from sin to become real and take control of our conduct and behavior. The walk of faith in God is a long journey of obedience to become Christ-like and be filled with ALL the fullness of God. For that to take place in this life this side of eternity, the shadows of the yesterdays must become one with the object that is causing it – that is you and me. Only the quest to know the full extent of the love of God as revealed in the Cross of Christ is the key to complete healing from the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.
Ephesians 3:19 KJV And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest:
Security from Yesterday. “God requireth that which is past.” Anxiety is bound to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is going to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into the false and shallow security in the present.
Isaiah 52:12, KJV For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward.
Security for Tomorrow. “For the Lord will go before you.” This is a gracious revelation, that God will be our strength and shield where we have failed to. He will watch over us lest we trip and fall into failure. God’s hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.
Security for Today. “For ye shall not go out with haste.” As we journey into this new year, let us not be in a hurry of impulsive thoughtlessness but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Christ. – Oswald Chambers
Irreparable Past, Irresistible Future: Yes, this must be the prelude to the conversations I want to have with my soul this year and the years to come. The shadow of yesterday will always be there as a memory but if we have steadfast faith in the only One, true, living God of Israel who writes our tomorrows, we have hope for new beginnings today. Then, the only shadow we see before us is His, Jesus of Nazareth.
Friday, January 9
When It’s All Been Said And Done
When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for You?
This picture was taken in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney in 2012. I had just finished an interview with a Clinical Psychologist in Sydney recorded in ‘Hearttalk’ and her parting words were, “Be Kind To Yourself.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU89kCFI0RM As I looked at this picture again today, the empty chair brought the reality to mind that one day we will leave this world and when that time comes, when all has been said and done, would we have lived our lives to the fullest that has been pleasing to God.
As the New Year 2015 starts unfolding day by day, I find myself asking this one important question: Did I do my best to live for truth? Did I live my life for Christ? You might say, “But that is two questions”? Yes, but they are knitted into one thread that unravels the depth of the soul. ‘Truth’ and ‘Life’ are sojourning partners of ‘The Way’ to eternity. They are inseparable companions and the One who came to lead us on this journey into eternal life said these words: ”I am the way, the truth and the life.” One crimson cord stained with the blood of the Lamb of God who when it was all said and done proclaimed: “It is finished.” His name is Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
So, my answer to this one important question is plain and clear: No. There comes a time in one’s life when you have to be brutally honest with oneself and with God and I find myself today at the starting point of my spiritual journey all over again. But hopefully and prayerfully the scars of ‘growing up’ into maturity in Christ will enable me to ‘stay up’ and finish the race laid before me . (see post ‘One Day At A Time’ about ‘scars’.)
The church pastor has declared this year as the ‘Year of Faith’. Definitely for me. This year will be the greatest challenge of my faith in God because important wise decisions have to be made regarding the future for our daughter as she plans to embark on a career in dentistry. Do we take the easy way out and go for what we see – financially, spiritually, physically and emotionally or do we take a step of faith and walk on water focused on the One who promises to ‘reward every man according to his deeds.’ Romans 2:6 That is the bottom line and it all depends on me.
Only what I have done
For love’s rewards
Will stand the test of time
It All Depends On Me: Am I being unkind to myself? What about my life? Do I need to live as what has been told to me and be kind to myself too? Am I putting unnecessary stress on my physically heart that is surviving on vein grafts from my thigh? How long will these vein grafts survive? Will I need another open heart bypass surgery? Will I need stents to keep them open for another 6 years till my daughter graduates and I can see the fruit of the provisions of the Lord to us as a family? Will the Potter be able to put all the broken pieces of my life so far together again so I can live for the truth and the abundant life that is in Christ Jesus? That would be the crown of glory this side of eternity to see the Lord’s hand complete what God has initially purposed and planned for this life to be for me. These are questions that only time will give forth the answers. But, as the ancient sage Job declared nearly four thousand years ago: I know that My redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand on earth! Job 19:25 Yes, I too want to stand with my Lord on earth and that must be the faith to walk on water in this life because the Lord will return in glory.
Job 19:25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth.
So friends, when it’s all been said and done, can we stand on level ground and say ‘Yes” we made it or will it become a tragedy of an unfinished journey? These are solemn thoughts that must be wrestled with as we enter into this new year of uncharted pathways. Yes, I know and admit there will be side roads and diversions and bypasses that I may enter into but with God’s grace and your prayers, we must strive to finish well and leave a legacy where someone can say when it is all said and done: He fell but managed to get up and finish well.
Sunday, January 4
One Day At A Time
Psalm 90:12: Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
A new year has begun, a new beginning for many, like me, who have had an emotionally and physically rough 2014. This has initiated some resolutions I plan to make for a start to this first month January. It is so easy for some folks to say, “Get a move on. Get over it. Life is too short so enjoy each day while there is still life and light.” Well, is it that simple? As a plastic surgeon, I deal with physical scars everyday and I tell all my patients this age-old adage: One day at a time. Time is the best healer so I advise them to wait and the body’s healing mechanisms will enable the scar to mature. That’s the key word – mature. As the physical scars mature, one day at a time, they fade and become less noticeable.
What about deep emotional scars caused by hurt and rejection? What about the arrows inflicted by the wages of sin that have pierced the soul and scarred the heart for life? Does 1st January 2015 mean they will go away because its a new year and nobody can see them compared to physical scars? How do these deep emotional scars mature? How can we make resolutions to make things right and start walking on level ground again and not fall and be ensnared by the patterns of the world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16)?
The prophet Jeremiah points us in the right direction when we hear the cries of his own heart recorded nearly two thousand six hundred odd years ago: Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved, for You are the one I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14) Scars of the heart mature through the healing that comes from the sovereign grace of God. The source of that healing is wisdom from God that comes to us through His word and power of the Holy Spirit to heal the wounds of the heart. The wounds inflicted on Jesus of Nazareth at Calvary for my iniquities brings rest and healing to my soul.
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Just as we number the days for physical scars to mature, so too the prayer of the man of God, Moses, calls out to the Spirit of the living God to teach us to number our days in this life with gratitude and thanksgiving as we apply our hearts to wisdom so we may mature in the grace of God to heal our wounds, act justly, walk humbly before God and love mercy.
Yes, love mercy. That would be a good and safe place to start. When we love the mercies of a compassionate God to forgive, the outflow of a grateful heart is praise. I want to start there this year because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. As I gathered my family and prayed over dinner on New Year’s day, I confessed these words in prayer before them and the Lord, “I know I am weak and I am a sinner. I ask God to give me the grace to take one day at a time so I can walk and not fall and I pray the Lord’s favor will rest upon all of us this year.” A blessed and fruitful new year in Christ to all. Amen!