It is a joy to welcome back Margaret Kemp as a guest writer to Restore's Monday Musing Blog. Margaret writing always touches your heart in a place of deep need. As we move into the new season of summer, we are often faced with new struggles and often great expectations that sometimes bring disappointments. There is One who understands. I know you'll be encouraged by her words.
Knees bent, arms raised, racket held high, I waited. Eyes fixed on the net, ears tuning out the clatter of other games in the field house, I got ready.
Moving side to side, anticipating the swoosh of the shuttlecock as it met the racket, I prepared again.
How could anyone fail at badminton? Badminton!
I thought badminton would be an easy class to fulfill the PE requirement for my Special Education degree. I was taking it Pass-Fail—not even for a letter grade. In the three years I’d been in college, I’d never dropped a course. Though I certainly wasn’t winning any medals for my athletic ability, I’d never struggled academically. Now, despite my best efforts, I was in danger of failing, and withdrawal seemed the best option.
My instructor encouraged me to stick with it, so I agreed to give it one more week. My badminton partner patiently served the birdie again and again. And my roommate, a Kinesiology major, helped me practice by throwing wads of paper across the dorm room.
I thought, Lord, why am I having such a hard time with this?
As I poured out my complaints to the Lord, He spoke to me in the quietness of my spirit.
If you want to teach special needs children, you need to experience what they experience----the challenge of accomplishing skills that come easily to others. You need to learn empathy.
When we’ve experienced firsthand what someone else is going through, we are able to understand and share in their struggle. We can offer empathy.
Jesus is the Master of empathy. He knows exactly how we feel---not just in an intellectual sense, but in a Been-There-Done-That kind of way. The Creator of the universe put on human skin. He felt the sun beating down on His head, the gritty desert sand scorching His feet, the lightning bolts of pain shooting through His body as nails were driven through His feet and hands.
He experienced the same temptations we do.
In Matthew 4:1-11, we read about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus felt the clawing in his stomach and the temptation to satisfy that hunger in the wrong way. Jesus knows what it’s like to see all the splendid things the world has to offer, and to know He could have them all without blood, sweat, and tears---if only He’d make a deal with the devil. He knows the taunting of the enemy, and He’s been faced with the same kind of choices we must make: Gratify the flesh or glorify the Father.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 NKJV
Have you been mocked? Jesus know what that feels like. Betrayed? He’s been there, too.
Are you weeping over lost loved ones or wayward children? Jesus wept over those things, too.
Have you felt like no one understands, like even God has turned His back on you? Guess what…Jesus has firsthand experience with that, too.
He knows the battles we face as well as the victory of overcoming temptation. He tenderly reaches out to us and says, “I know it’s hard. Here, let me help you.” He took the penalty for our sins, but He didn’t stop there. Jesus didn’t leave us alone to swing aimlessly at the enticements the enemy serves into our court. Jesus sent His Spirit to intercede for us and empower us.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
“Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
I finally learned to hit the shuttlecock and even grew to enjoy playing badminton. But the badminton dilemma was just the introductory course in God’s School of Empathy. Since then, I’ve proceeded to graduate level courses---like divorce and serious illness. Each lesson has rendered me a little less judgmental, a little more compassionate. And in these life-lessons, I’m learning to lean on the One who loves me.
Do you know someone who needs a little extra patience and understanding today?
Or maybe you’re the one who’s struggling---wrestling with temptation, grappling with pain and heartbreak, straining to do things that are just plain hard. Maybe it feels like no one understands. Turn to Jesus. He knows exactly how you feel, and He has the power to help.
In our frailty, Jesus offers friendship. In our struggle, He offers strength.
He’s the Master of Empathy.
Lord Jesus, in our struggles, let us rest in your love and rely on your leading. In our temptations, guide us to that way of escape. Help us show empathy to our fellow strugglers.
“O, Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my paths and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139: 1-3
Resting in Jesus,
The night sky was quickly rolling in as I’m made my 4 hour trip northward. The long hard week was finally coming to an end, but the weekend would be no easier. It’s one of my other random jobs that has led me into an area of Louisiana with which I am not familiar. It has been an extremely busy day moving from one job to another, shifting my brain from one activity to the next. Thursday’s are just that way! I raced out early with no breakfast and when I came home after lunch to begin teaching piano, I had only time for a peanut butter foldie! I quickly scraped the end of the peanut butter from the spent jar and spread it on one of the last pieces of bread and shoved it in my mouth, all the while, trying to tell my husband about a difficult meeting I had just been in. My time was rapidly being spent before my student walked in for his lesson. It was also about this time that I remembered that the pants I wanted to bring on the trip were in the washing machine and needed to be dried. In walked my student and I totally forgot about the pants in the washer!
Fast forward to 5:30 pm. I remembered my pants and quickly threw them in the dryer. I figured I’d remove them just before I left for my trip. I gathered a few clothes, my laptop...AND my Keurig and raced out of the door. I knew I would arrive at my destination way after my bedtime and I didn’t really want to be driving that late and in unknown territory! But I didn’t fear...I had GPS on both phone and iPad. The drive would be nice and I could slow my rapid brain pace and leisurely think...pray...and decompress. My brainpower needed rest and recharging! I had spent it all week worrying and thinking about the many task that lie ahead and the hard decisions that needed to be made. My brain was fatigued and totally spent!
Thank God I looked at my gas tank indicator before I got on the interstate! All of my gasoline for the week had been spent...totally empty! So while I was filling up my tank, I did what every good traveler does! I plotted my course...on my phone of course! This is when I realized that I only had a very small percent of battery life left! Geeezz! I had spent over 90% of its life using it for my teaching. 10% or less would never take me 4 hours! No worries though, I always try to have backup plans...for almost everything! Life has taught me to think that way! I had my iPad and my fancy Bluetooth double USB car charger that would let me play my Pandora station through my radio while charging my phone. (I drive an old car without many bells and whistles) Taking precautionary measures before pulling away from the gas station, I also plotted the course on my iPad. After all, it’s much bigger to see and easier to follow. Not only that, but I was looking out for my phone battery life! Another backup plan.
What?! How in the world did my iPad get down to 15%? I haven’t spent any battery life since I used it last and it was full! I know...by this time you’re probably shaking your head and calling me an idiot! And rightly so! I should have made sure that all devices were well charged while I was teaching piano and BEFORE I started my journey! That’s what I deserve for spending my time racing through the day!
No worries. I’ll charge as I go! And I did!
As I made my way down the interstate, I began to hear the most disturbing growling sounds and there was a terrible emptiness in the pit of my stomach. What little I had eaten (just a foldie for the day) had obviously been spent! It was then that I reviewed my day and realized that I had not even eaten breakfast and OH MY! I left my pants in the dryer! Oh well! I’ll have to make due with what I did pack...one pair of pants for the next day or I could wear what I had on already for Saturday if I didn’t dirty them too badly. And I did have my Yoga pants for an emergency...not thinking that I’d really wear them.
I stopped for a bite to replenish the long spent foldie. As I traveled, I gave space for my brain to rest while listening to soft beautiful piano music. Just because...I checked to see that my phone battery was actually charging. I didn’t want to be caught not really knowing where to exit. I had been on the road well over an hour and the percentage had only risen 2%. It’s never charged this slowly before...even with Pandora playing! I decided to conserve battery and eliminate my music. There was silence. The only thing I could hear was the pounding of the pavement and the engines of a few 18 wheelers that I passed. My brain was free to wonder, dream, and reflect. That’s when it hit me! Only when my mind was free and focused on emptying was I able to be filled with thoughts from above.
I love the way God takes events, objects, people, places, and circumstances to show you a greater truth. My thoughts revealed that all things were “being spent.” When something is spent, you no longer have it. This can often be damaging when you exceed or try to go beyond limits. I began to make a mental list of the “spending” that had been taking place. The end of so many things made my list seem to never come to an end! It was the end of the month, the week, the day, the sunlight, my gasoline, my nutritional need, batteries, clothes. The good weather was also coming to an end as I made my way through the extra-darkened-by-the-storm-clouds night. A little scary I might add; so even my comfort level was being spent! I reflected further about the day. I had just resigned from one of my jobs…now even my livelihood was ending and my emotional state was wrestling with how I spent my year!
This blog is getting a little lengthy, so I’ll refrain from sharing the other million ways that God revealed the spending and ending of so many things, AND how I am being “spent.” (which are not all bad, I might add!) My list was divided between positives and negatives. The very long list seemed to speak out to me.
Actually, it was the Lord speaking, “Come to the end of yourself!”
When you choose to empty yourself and focus on what really matters (your love for God, His for you, and how well you show love to others) then are you able to experience a filling that only the Holy Spirit can pump into your soul! It’s then that your “life-gage” will register full!
Each day we spend and invest. It’s the rhythm of life. Something is always coming to a close, just as there are new beginnings on the horizon that are coming into view. You may be retiring, graduating, beginning a family, caring for aging parents/siblings or changing a job situation. Maybe there has been significant loss in your life and you feel like a sailboat tossed at sea. Perhaps you find yourself spending and spending without recharging your battery and you are at the point where you have over spent! Are you living dangerously on the edge of unwise choices? Are you finding that your health is failing? Are your thoughts crowded and your brain fatigued by a whirlwind of decision making? My friend, take courage. Grasp tightly to Hope. A new day is dawning and joy comes in the morning! What is spent, is spent! There are no return policies! Behold, all things become new! Take the next step forward. Make healthy deposits by allowing the Lover of your soul to embrace you and fill you with all power and wisdom.
Sure, some of us are prone to push against every obsticle, make unwise choices, and depend on self. It’s then that we will surely find ourselves right back where we don’t want to go. When we choose to depend on God in our decisions (even the ones that seem easy to make), He will direct our steps so that we don’t make wrong turns! The key is to empty ourselves of self! Leave space in your mind, heart, and soul for God to move in and through you. I promise that when space is made for God in these areas, that He shows up and brings glory and honor His name. Isn’t that, as mature Christians, really how we want to live?
Well, to finish up my travel story, I finally made it to the hotel safe and with only one little detour! What relief! I admit, I was still a little anxious about the lateness of the evening, no place to park, and dragging my luggage in alone! Then just like God…when I was searching for my room number, I began to hear the most beautiful solo guitar music. What?! I didn’t know that the Holiday Inn Express was Christian owned and played Christian music throughout the lobby and halls? Well…that was my conclusion as the music seemed to follow me everywhere I walked. I recognized the tune and in my heart, I began to sing. What sweet words the Lord was sending my way after 4-1/2 hours of relentless feelings of anxiousness and my list making!
I entered my room only to discover that the music followed me inside! Pandora was playing through the speaker on my phone…tucked away in my bag!
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me…
And no! Christian music does NOT play in the lobby, nor do I believe that it is Christian ownded. The music was for me only! And in this, I found His perfect peace and thus bring honor and glory to His name!
A couple of side notes:
Scriptures that restored my soul as I allowed space in my mind, heart, and soul.
May they be a blessing to your soul today:
Psalm 30: 5
For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life:
weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old things have passed away.
Behold, all things have become new.
Luke 1:78-80 (TPT)
78 The splendor light of heaven’s glorious sunrise[a]
is about to break upon us in holy visitation,
all because the merciful heart of our God is so very tender.
79 The word from heaven will come to us[b]
with dazzling light to shine upon those
who live in darkness, near death’s dark shadow.[c]
And he will illuminate the path that leads to the way of peace.”
Luke 10:27 (NLT)
“‘You must love the LORD your God
with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.
’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.
Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us.
2 Peter 1: 4-11
4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind,
forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers and sisters, a make every effort to confirm your calling and election.
For if you do these things, you will never stumble,
11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If you are reading this blog through social media we would suggest that you sign up to recieve the blog each week in your email inbox. It will come directly to you to read at your leisure.
Just enter your email in the subscriber box on the right at the top of this blog page on the website, then REPLY to the invitation email you will receive in your personal inbox. Your email address is safe with us!
Follow ALL directions to completion!
Feel free to share our blogs on your social media
or email them to a friend. Just follow the directions carefully.
Sign Up to Receive our Blog via email.
Click to set custom HTML