A Gate Called Beautiful
From Broken to Blessed
I have faded from memory as if I were dead and have become like a piece of broken pottery. -Psalm 31:12 GNT
“Do you want to get well?” In John 5:6, Jesus proposed this question to a man who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. While the answer may seem obvious to some, for those of us who have been living in hurt, shame, or uncertainty for an extended period—the answer can be a little more complicated. It is not that we don’t want to get well, being broken has just become our way of life. After so many setbacks and disappointments, brokenness is something we’ve become accustomed to. After my arrest, I grew comfortable in my pain and became content living there. Yes, I wanted to get well, but I did not know how to.
So, when God started answering my prayers—I was afraid because my way of life was changing. Those feelings of fear are not uncommon for those who have been broken and now find themselves being blessed. I imagine this is how that disabled man felt after his healing: Yes, I can walk again, but how do I adjust to a new reality? How do I go from broken to blessed?
We serve a God who promises to be near the broken and save those who spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18). Therefore, we are NEVER too broken for God to mend us. If we truly want to move from being broken to blessed, we are going to have to address our brokenness, adjust to our new reality, and accept God’s blessings.
Many times, after we experience trauma, we try to bury it instead of addressing it. When we bury hurt and pain, we water it with our tears and resentment and before long—it resurfaces, causing us to return to a place that God has delivered us from. So, address and acknowledge your past pain—that way you will be able to learn, grow, and move away from it.
Next, adjust. The disabled man in John 5:6 had to learn how to adjust to his new reality. He no longer had to wait for a healing, but he did have to learn how to walk again, how to function in society again, and how to live differently than what he had become accustomed to. Adjusting is frustrating, and there will be times when you stumble as you try to regain your footing but remember that God is able to keep you from falling (Jude 1:24) back into what broke you.
After addressing your past hurt and adjusting to your new way of life, you are going to have to accept your present blessings. Oftentimes, we feel as if we do not deserve the things God has blessed us with or that the blessings, relationship, job, etc. that we have, won’t last. God is good. And His goodness, love, and mercy are extended to all His creation—including you! So, when the Lord blesses you, live confidently in His blessings—for you are His prized possession.
[The Spirit of God] puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. - 2 Corinthians 5:5 MSG
After three years of unemployment, I finally received what seemed like a promising professional opportunity. The job was a part-time program manager position at a Baltimore City nonprofit. The position did not pay much, nor did it come with any benefits, but it was a job—something I desperately wanted. After three interviews, I was informed that they were moving forward with another applicant—I was devastated. I really wanted that job, not because it was a good job, but because I was desperate. In my desperation, I was ready to settle for less than what God had planned for me.
Throughout our lives, we are often told that we need to settle down. So, we live looking for places to settle. Some of us settle in relationships while others settle on jobs and environments that cause more harm than happiness. We settle for less when we don’t believe that God can provide us with more.
Desperate Times & Desperate Measures
I imagine this is how Sarai (Sarah) felt after God promised her husband Abram (Abraham) that He would bless them with a son (Genesis 15:4), yet her womb remained barren.
Abram's wife Sarai had not borne him any children. But she had an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar, and so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Why don't you sleep with my slave? Perhaps she can have a child for me.” - Genesis 16:1 - 2 GNT
Sarah confused delay with denial and did what we often do when in doubt—she questioned God’s character by accusing Him of keeping her from having children and she attempted to take matters into her own hands. Sarah was desperate for a baby; I was desperate for a job, and today, you might be desperate for both, or you’re desperate for a relationship, affection, money, stability, or health.
Now, scripture tells us to be still (Psalm 46:10) and to wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14) but waiting on God is difficult when the bills are growing and you don’t have a job or when the years are passing, and you are still single. Our impatience leads to desperation and when we are desperate, we make poor decisions and settle for less than what we deserve.
Before making an important life decision, always ask yourself the following: Am I settling down or am I leveling up? To put that another way: Are you committing to a relationship, job, city, or mindset because you believe it is what God has for you or because it is convenient and satisfies your short-term desires?
God is faithful. Though Sarah made a bad decision, God still honored His vow and blessed her and Abraham with a child. And though I did not get the job I thought I wanted; God blessed me with an amazing professional opportunity just three months later. My willingness to settle almost caused me to miss my blessing. Your blessing and breakthrough are closer than you think, so don’t settle or you might miss it. Instead, trust that God will honor His vow to bless you abundantly beyond what you can imagine.
When They Go
Surely, they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. – Isaiah 49:15 NKJV
Getting arrested was probably the lowest point of my life, and I became obsessed over what people were saying and thinking about me because of it. That obsession turned into anger, disappointment, and depression once I discovered some of the things that people were saying and believing about me - things that caused them to dissociate themselves from me. I allowed the actions of others to affect me negatively because we often give people outsized influence over our feelings and thoughts in an attempt to feel liked and accepted.
People have the right to leave us and form whatever opinions about us they want. However, we have the responsibility to not allow what others do and say affect our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. So, to quote Mya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Do not try to convince or stop someone from walking away from you. When they go, let them go.
Let Them Go
On two separate occasions we witness Jesus feeding his followers. In Mark 6, Jesus feeds 4,000 men (not including women and children) and at the beginning of John 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men (not including women and children). So, we can assume that at any given time, Jesus had anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 people (if you include women and children) following Him. But by the time we get to the end of John 6, Jesus has lost thousands of followers.
On hearing [Jesus’s teachings], many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. – John 6:60 & 66 NIV
Not even Jesus, at the height of his popularity, was immune from people leaving Him. When He was healing, performing miracles, and feeding the masses, they cheered Him on, followed Him, and spread good news about Him but when His directives became too difficult for them, they left.
When some people think they know how your story is going to end, they leave. When some people feel as if you have nothing more to offer them, they leave. When some people can no longer manipulate or abuse you, they leave. Do not hold on to people who choose to leave. You should not only let them go, but you should also help them go by blocking, deleting, and ignoring.
Jesus gave His followers a choice. They could leave or they could stay, and thousands decided to leave. Jesus did not run after those who chose to leave Him, and neither should you. Instead, He turned his attention to those who truly loved and supported Him.
Instead of stressing over who left you, learn to appreciate those who chose to stay with you.
You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-68 NIV
Not everyone left Jesus, the twelve disciples, including Judas, stayed. And after four years of hurt, frustration, doubt, and unemployment not everyone left me. The ones who mean the most to me stayed and through them I experienced God’s goodness, grace, love, and mercy.
We often give too much of our time and focus to those who hurt and abandoned us, instead of to those who are currently supporting us. So, take a moment, look around, and see who stayed. Place your energy on those who want the best for you - those who uplift and care for you. Love those who love you. Pour into those who pour into you. Cherish those who cherish you. Encourage those who encourage you.
New Year, Same Devil
Commit your works to the LORD [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]. – Proverbs 16:3 AMP
It is a new year, but the same devil is still prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, manipulate, deceive, and destroy (1 Peter 5:8). While the calendar, your mindset, and attitude may be changing, many of the same problems from last year will attempt to define you this year. To successfully overcome the old schemes of the enemy and transition into a new season of love, happiness, purpose, and overflow you are going to have to be disciplined, intentional, and fearless.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11 BSB
According to studies, 80 percent of New Year Resolutions fail by February. They fail because we make declarations and vision boards but do not follow through with action plans. Action plans are the steps we take to transform our visions into reality and that requires discipline, and discipline requires us to sacrifice short-term satisfaction for long-term gains.
Discipline takes the form of boundaries in our personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional lives. If you want to be the best version of yourself this year, you are going to have to create and enforce boundaries. That may mean changing some of your lifestyle habits (staying home instead of going out), altering how you think about yourself (you are more than a conqueror), and being more mindful of the people you are allowing into your life (everyone should not have access to you). The more boundaries you adhere to, the better off your life will be.
Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough. - Proverbs 21:5 GNT
We tend to be intentional about things that are inconsequential. We are more intentional about the clothes, shoes, and accessories we wear, cars we drive, and pictures we post on social media than we are about the people we associate with, things we consume, and feelings we express. In your next season, you are going to have to be more intentional about your relationships, emotions, health, and worship.
Be more intentional about praying, attending church, and reading your Bible. Be more intentional about reaching out to friends, returning messages, and spending quality time with loved ones. Be more intentional about your health, the foods you eat, and exercising. Be more intentional about budgeting your money. Be more intentional about how you are living your life and watch as God reward you for your obedience.
The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6 NLT
To be great, you are going to have to be fearless. That means you must stop negotiating with negative thoughts, pessimistic people, and self-sabotaging behaviors over your future and instead trust that God, who orders your steps, will meet your every need.
Being fearless does not mean being careless, but it does mean being disciplined, intentional, and clear on the endeavors you pursue this year. So, take a chance and bet on yourself, not succumbing to your misgivings or criticism, but instead aggressively pursuing the things God has placed on your heart.
I am so happy for the things God is about to do for you in this new year. Your business will thrive, a new relationship awaits you, your promotion is imminent, your health is improving, and your joy is returning. Embrace all that God has for you by being disciplined, intentional, and fearless. Do not allow the old tricks of the enemy to stop you from taking advantage of the new opportunities that await you this year. Yes, the devil is the same, but the blessings will be new!
Peace Be With You
May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 GNT
Peace is defined as a state of calm and harmony between your mind, body, and soul. The Greek word for peace is εἰρήνην (eiréné) which can be interpreted as “. . . the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing [apart] from God and content with its earthly [circumstances]. . .”
Before Christ is arrested and crucified, He takes the time to remind His disciples in John 14 that He is leaving them with peace. Now, Jesus did not have much time to waste, and you would think that He would have used what little time He had left to remind the disciples of the importance of love, forgiveness, or prayer, but instead he reminds them of His peace.
So, why does Jesus highlight peace before the cross? Because He knew that this world would try to substitute His peace with one that is contrary to His teachings.
The Peace the World Gives
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27 NIV
The peace the world gives are really problems designed to look like solutions. The peace of this world tells us that if we just get married that we will be happy, that if we get the job, we will be fulfilled, or that if we get more money, we will not have any more difficulties. All those things require you to work in-order to obtain peace, but Christ informed us that peace is a gift that He gives us, meaning it is something we accept and not work for.
The Peace That God Gives
The peace that God gives does not equate to the absence of problems; instead, it requires us to acknowledge His presence in our problems. God’s peace is the type of peace that will allow you to sleep in the middle of a storm (Matthew 8:24), that will give you the confidence to face your giants and allow you to declare; regardless of your situation and circumstances, that all things will work out for your good (Romans 8:28).
So, if you want peace in your life, do not look for it in people or things, instead accept it from God.
New blog(s) posted every month.