The Next Chapter

(Please read all the way to the end)

God is always writing a new chapter in our lives. Our life story is being written by an author and creator that already knows how the story will end.

Do we know how it will go?

Of course not. We are living that story and you can’t see into the future. While we can do everything we can to invest, change, grow, and learn to become what we believe is our better self, many things go into the next chapter.

I used to think I wanted to know my future. The older I get, the more I realize that I would not have chosen that future. I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to have things and be someone that is nothing close to what I have or who I am now.

Saying all of that, I would not change one thing in my past because of what God has done in and through my life to bring me to where I am now.

Do I have regrets? More than I can ever count? Do I wish things would have been different? Only if I would have what I have now, know what I know now, be as blessed as I am now, and know that through everything, God has been faithful to bring forth wholeness to me through it all, in spite of me and my failings.

So, why are we both taking a moment right now to acknowledge the turning of a page in our lives?

Our story is not made up of only a couple dozen chapters. It is a complete rendering of our life on earth. It has many characters, plot twists, and shocking events. It includes love, pain, joy, loss, life, and death.

It is a record for all of eternity that you exist. You matter. You are a part of human history and God’s story.

While most lives will never make the history books in our schools or the shelves of our libraries and Kindles, it still is being written. It is still there. It will always be there, even if nobody ever sees it or reads it.

God has a place for our story. He is recording our daily lives, knowing how it will end. Yet, He is letting us co-write it.

We know that God gave us a free will. There are consequences and results from every decision and action for our whole life. This is our part of the story writing.

Think of it as a REAL (not psuedo-real) reality show. As you go through voting people off, back-stabbing, helping your teammates, lifting others up, and striving to be your best, God is putting pen to paper on your story.

How do you think God goes about recording your prayers to Him? Is it like you talking to Him for advice on how to handle a situation or relationship? Do you ignore His subtle and sometimes abrupt requests for just a few minutes to spend time with Him?

Since He knows the whole story, I wonder if we see how advantageous it would be to ask Him about His plans on how our story should go. God has a best plan for us. It is up to us to come into alignment with that plan in order for Him to give us our best life.

How would our life story change if we asked the One who knows how the story ends? How would being obedient to His calling and direction affect our selfish and simplistic look at our lives? Could we see our life actually is a vital part of human history?

What is your next chapter?

Will it be full of disappointment, pain, and selfishness to the point of destruction at the hand of substance abuse, suicide, or just giving up on life and letting things happen?

Will it be full or a restoration of your self-image, a renewing of your mental well-being, and a testimony to God’s redeeming work in your life?

Take a moment right now to decide how you want the next chapter to read. Set a few minutes aside to quiet yourself and honestly talk to God.

Tell Him what you are feeling. Be honest. If you can’t be honest with yourself and others, at least be honest with Him. He loves you and is on your side. Let it out.

Ask Him what this next chapter looks like. It may amaze you that He wants to write about the healing and wholeness He has for you. He is wants to marvel that this will not be a chapter in your life that will look back to the other chapters already written but looks look forward to the life story to come.

Picture yourself at a Panera (where I am right now enjoying a hot Orange Mint Herbal Tea) sitting across from God himself. He has a pad and paper in front of Him and has a nice pen in His right hand touching the paper. On the top of the page reads “The Next Chapter”.

He looks at you with excitement in His heart, wondering what you want written down. His eyes are filled with a love you are just now starting to understand. His voice asks you softly, “My child, what is next? How do you want this to start?”

What is your response?

 

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The Space Between

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing.

Author and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes this space as:

where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.

These thresholds of wondering and not knowing our ‘next’ are inevitable and most are incredibly disruptive. Yet, these spaces are required and necessary for growth that precedes your healing.

From the point where you take that leap of faith until you land on solid ground, it can be scary. It can be lonely. It can be confusing and exhausting.

It is ALWAYS a testimony.

This is the place that scares us. This is the place where our comfort zone has been left for the unknown zone. This is where fear and faith collide to do battle for the future of our life.

Look at the person in the picture above again. Notice a few things about them:

 

They are looking forward —

Unless you are a diver or playing around near a pool, you look ahead when you leap. You are  seeking a place that is in front of you.

Have you ever wondered why God put our eyes on the front of our head? Yes, to look forward. We have to strain to see behind us without a mirror. It should be a struggle to focus on what is already behind us.

God wants us to look at what lies ahead instead of what lies in ruins behind us. You can’t change the past. You can only learn from it and move forward.

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

They are heading somewhere —

There is movement away from the past towards a new present. A decision was made to embrace change. They trust where they are heading will be better than where they have been, a place of pain.

There is a hope, a desire for more than what has happened to them. A sense of a new beginning that can only happen when they step out in faith.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 

They are not where they used to be —

The space between is not the place of your past. You are not there any more. Rejoice in that!!

You are now residing in a new space. Liminal space is temporary, just like where you may be living right now.

A nice big house may have become a small 2 bedroom apartment either with your children or all by yourself. The house may be the same, but your family may not be there with you.

A negative change in your physical home can become a welcome change in your non-physical home. Your soul can be at rest with His Holy Spirit no matter where you live,  in a mansion or in a rescue shelter.

He lives in you. Seeking Him and welcoming Him into your new ‘home’ will mean a closer, more life-giving relationship with the God who will never leave you nor forsake you.

10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly,

 

They are above where they will land —

It seems a little odd, but do you notice in the picture the person is higher than where they will end up on the other side? Why is that?

First, it takes strength to jump out in faith. You need to know that God will be your strength and will give you the power to propel away from your past to land in your future. Go for it!!

Second, you can’t just crawl off the faith cliff. You will fall straight down. The person above put physical, mental, and emotional energy into moving out from their past. You can too.

Third, where you are headed will be a foundation for your future. It will be the solid ground where you can stabilize yourself for the journey ahead. Count on it.

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Will everything be perfect from this point forward? Of course, not. Will everything work out? I hope so. Will it be difficult? Probably. Will it be worth it? DEFINITELY!!

When you thrust your whole being upwards towards the God who created you and loves you, the picture above is where you will be. You will be closer to Him, away from your past, above your problems, and heading towards a solid rock where your new life will begin.

Be blessed!!

 

YouVersion Bible App Reading Plans:
31 Days: http://bit.ly/2DNy6E6
7 Days: http://bit.ly/2DTHQwD

Book: http://amzn.to/2ctwjHp

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back

Looking Back

There comes that day, when looking back is a good thing!!

It has been years since my divorces, and I still look back at times. They are few and far between, but after this long it feels so good to see how far I have come.

I remember those painful days. I remember the stabbing pains, the confusion, the worry. All of the emotions that divorce causes are nothing now. They are in the rear view mirror. And may I say, they are beyond the horizon.

It has taken me much longer that I expected to complete a couple of projects to help others called “Divorce to Healing: 31 Days of Healing and Wholeness”. I have been sitting on the book for over 4 months because I hit a wall with computer issues and believing I needed to retype all of it to complete the publishing process. So I just procrastinated.

I found other things to work on, but I needed to finish the book. I completed a Reading Plan for YouVersion’s Bible App, which has reached over 5200 people as of today. I am humbled to say that God has been so amazing with what He has given me, but He requires more.

So, yesterday I completed the review process for the written copy of the book and as of this moment, it is in the review process. I will be ordering a proof copy tomorrow. If all goes well, I should be ordering a few copies for personal distribution and it will be available for sale in a matter of days.

Today while reviewing the introduction and proof-reading, I was able to look back again and see how far I have come. I read my story to myself, and it encouraged me. As if I didn’t know the story already.

Taking the time to look back gave me such an appreciation for all those people God blessed me with to help me heal from my divorces. My family, friends, pastors, and just acquaintances I got to meet while going through the process. Most of all, God did His work in me. And for that, I am eternally greatful!!

Looking back, I see how God has fulfilled the promise in Romans 8:28, which says, “..28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I am living proof of that.

It is hard to see how God is going to use you and your divorce when you are going through it. Just like a swimmer can’t see what their final time will be or if they will win a medal, divorce is a learning and healing process that is working within you to make you a more complete person.

I know that usually for one party in the divorce, it is not what they want. Someone is willing to work towards keeping the marriage together, and the other party does not. I am sorry, but that is the sad truth.

But God can use it for good and will use you in ways He never could before, if you take the time to heal and let Him make you whole. Only He can do that. Only God can mend a broken heart. Let Him.

There will come that time, when you will look back. You will see the potholes you drove over, the ditches and valleys you had to 4-wheel through, and the traffic jams you had to sit through. It will be tough, but it will be easier as time and healing happens.

Let God do the work He wants to do in you so He can do His work through you to help others someday.

That is my story, and it can be yours too.

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