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Archive for December, 2011

The Miracle of the Lens


Tragedy plagues our little town of Crandall. Death often drapes an ugly shroud over families in this East Texas town. So it was no shock when I received a phone call this morning seeking prayer for a family whose son has been critically wounded in Afghanistan.

The shock is that it is the third phone call this week. An eighteen-year-old, who lives around the corner returned from college tired from final exams and went to bed. His father found him dead next morning. A mother of three, suffering depression, committed suicide over the weekend leaving a newborn and two children without a mother. All this week! Oh God, where are You in all this?

And it’s Christmas!

I know grief never takes a holiday. But what do I do with this load of suffering? How do these families survive?

The holidays have been difficult for our family for the past eleven years since we lost our twenty-eight-year-old daughter. After her death, God called me to be a GriefShare facilitator, prayer warrior, and helper for those called to walk this dark journey.

This morning I’m reminded of the One who willingly carried an enormous burden for me. The Holy One, The Son of God, stepped down from His place of authority and power, left all the glories of Heaven, and allowed Himself to be confined in a human body, in the womb of a young Jewish girl. This King of Kings was born to die. For thirty-two years He walked the earth with one purpose—to die, so that I might live for Him and with Him. Forever.

It is only through trials, tragedy and tribulations that we learn to endure. We don’t learn to persevere when times are good and there are no problems. Scripture confirms, “In this world we will have trouble.” But Christ also tells us we are to “be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.”

So what can I do with this overwhelming load of grief today?

Take it to the One who understands sorrow. Dump it there and remind myself these are secret things. They belong to the Lord. My focus will no longer remain macro-lensed on the muck and mire of this earth. God gives the eyes of my heart and mind the ability to zoom out and inhale His perspective, His power and His plan.

The light of His joy floods in and pushes the grief of the moment into it’s proper spectrum. But He uses grief as a necessary tool to break my pride and help me understand that I’m not in control—He is. I am to trust Him during these times of abject sorrow and pain.

Through the depths of grief God produces in me the strength to climb those breath-taking mountain tops of joy where purified air flows and I can begin to comprehend a tiny portion of the depths of His love and grace.

That is the miracle! Accomplished for all who choose to believe in Jesus, the Balm of Gilead, the Great Physician, my Savior, my Lord and my King.

The question is not if grief comes, but when grief comes.

Will you allow Him to enfold you in His arms of love each day and comfort you ‘til joy returns?

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“. . .for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. . .” Exodus 20:5

Mention the phrase “generational sin” and most church members roll their eyes. A few years ago, I didn’t want to think about it either, until a relative of mine, Arthur Clinton Coleman, published a book on our family genealogy entitled The Colemanac – The history of the Coleman family from 1750 to 1976.

TRACING MY LINEAGE

A number of years ago, while thumbing through the voluminous pages of The Colemanac, I stumbled upon pieces of historical information about one of my great-great-great-greats–Lucretia Coleman, wife of Baptist preacher Elisha Coleman.

The writer refers to their relationship as “being seasoned with a high-octane rating.” Lucretia was “a woman of imagination and talent, very vocal and outspoken, in a day when it was not acceptable.”  She was a rebel. It was a second marriage for both Elisha and Lucretia and they had thirteen children between the two of them. An 1831 newspaper article documented:

“Elisha Coleman says his wife Lucretia has forsaken his bed and board, saying at the same time she would be his ruin, and notified public not to credit her on his account.”

The sketchy history mapped out in subsequent newspaper articles reported that these two moved in and out of their marriage relationship through the years. Records indicate that the church “gave Lucretia Coleman papers of dismission after she made acknowledgments to Elisha and the church in 1844.” History and the grave have swallowed the nature of these events.

My maternal grandmother, married five times–in the early 1900’s. Two aunts, on mother’s side, were also married various times and my dad’s father could only be described as a scoundrel.

After reading the account of Lucretia, I was stunned that the description of this far distant relative could have been used to identify me–imaginative, talented, very outspoken, difficult to get along with, a rebel who was possibly irresponsible in relationships.

A child of the ’60’s, during my early adult years I marched to my own beat. My mom and the two aunts, were also creative, outspoken, aggressive women and we all gave our husbands heartburn. My mom and dad were the only ones in the group who avoided divorce. They retorted through the  years, “We’d rather fight than switch.” And fight they did.

THE GENERATIONAL MIRROR

The personalities of all of these women were in the mirror God held before me to change my heart and mind about wrong attitudes and behavior–sin in my life according to His Word. But not before I took my two children and walked out  of a 13 year marriage, ignoring the warning that “God hates divorce.”

Were there problems in the marriage? Yes. Did I let God solve the problems, change the marriage, or change me? No. When trouble threatened my second marriage it became apparent I might be a large part of the problem. Like a frog cooking in a pot of water, I was unaware of the impending danger as the heat of destruction smoldered in our home.

Besides the crumbling marriage, an even deeper problem existed. I knew about Jesus, but had no relationship with Him. My church experience began in the nursery. Went to church all my life. Walked the aisle at twelve with a group of friends. Worked hard to be the best Christian I could. It was all about me and how good I could be.

Dr. Phil always asks the troubled people on his TV show, “How’s that workin’ for you?” I can tell you it didn’t work very well because try as I might, I couldn’t be good enough. Those generational quirks–God calls them sins–sucked me deeper into the strangling undertow of life without Christ.

Like the foolish woman of Proverbs 14:1 who “tears down her house with her own hands,” my tongue shot those fiery flames referred to throughout the Book of James. Together with my outrageous temper and a need to control every situation, our house became a danger zone.

In January of 1989 I drew a robe of self-righteousness around me and declared “I’m going back to church.” I did and my husband came with me. We found God had another plan that Sunday morning. No more business as usual. Life Action Crusade was beginning a revival meeting at Spring Baptist Church. On Tuesday evening of that week we met Jesus, surrendered our lives to Him as Savior and Lord. He took our robes of self-righteousness and wrapped us instead in the blood soaked robe of  His pure righteousness. Twenty-three  years later He continues to patiently renovate our lives and our marriage. As we obey, He blesses.

However, generational strongholds die hard. Every day is a battle and I am called to be on the alert, on guard, because I have an enemy who seeks to destroy me and I give him the ammunition to do the job.

God instructs me to choose His way over the natural inclinations of my emotions. My constant prayer is that God will develop in me a gentle, quiet spirit which 1 Peter 3:4 says “. . . is precious in the sight of God.” The desire of my heart? To become the wise woman of Proverbs 14:1 who “. . . builds her own house.”

I have the tendency to run ahead of God, thinking I’ve learned the lesson. I grab the reigns and charge ahead even though He instructs me to stand firm and wait for His direction. While I am better than I used to be, I still have a long way to go.

Can God bless my life after I have rebelled against Him or does He say “Oops, DiAne. That’s the third strike. You’re out?”

For years I believed the lie that God would never forgive me. How about you? Where does this find you today? Accused by the enemy of  your soul or forgiven by the Sovereign God of all the universe because of the blood offered by His Son?  Jesus Christ died for you.

NEXT: What God Has to Say

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