Entreat me not to leave you;
May I be forever near you,
May I feel you
Every time my heart does beat,
Oh jealous God,
Do increase your longing for me,
And in your presence
Ever be my keep.
Copyright 2016. L.L. Shelton.
A bit of testimony for those of you who are acquainted with trial:
In two thousand nine, I was purposefully tending to my tasks, meeting the day to day challenges sometimes with nothing short of what seemed to me a herculean effort- and managing (for the most part) to do so cheerfully, when “stuff” happened in my personal life that threatened to derail me.
Contrary to popular teachings of church culture, a healthy person rarely forgets, so we must learn to forgive ourselves and others anyway, and expect that past troubles may never be completely finished- in this lifetime.
Therefore, my new stuff piled on top of the old stuff and I began to unravel. The junk threatened to rip out every carefully managed seam. But as my eldest son is fond of reminding me, I am undaunted; and as I am accustomed to doing, I began to cautiously and with as much care, re-ravel.
It seemed a wonder in the beginning that each time I repaired and pieced together a part of my self, a new force (often from a direction I may have never anticipated) popped up, sometimes with true vigor, and made the attempt to rip out my pain-staking work. Oh how I hate being forced to start over…
As a girl I loved to play Monopoly. It was by far my favorite. The game of Life was the only one to run it a close second. A unique aspect of Life was that you could collect children along the way and I thought that the grandest aspect of any game. By the time I was twelve, Baby Island had been my favorite book for awhile, and in fact not even my fifteen- year-old competitors were offered a babysitting gig in my neighborhood unless I had first turned it down. So I spent some time trying to figure a way to incorporate this characteristic play into Monopoly.
These things aside, Monopoly continued to rule from my point of view, and I would do everything short of agreeing to watch my somewhat younger brother set fire to something to entice him into a game. Please, please, please… and to keep him from quitting when we had been hard at it for two days and I owned everything but his skin, I would come up with a million new lending schemes to keep him struggling along.
But though I stood the undisputed Monopoly-loving champion of Branderham Drive, there was something even I despised about the game. I sometimes felt the game creators designed the aspect especially for me. That thing I abhorred in the game, was to be told to return to start. One measly flip of the dice… Go back to the beginning. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. No! No! No! I would reel inside my head, sometimes and probably much to my brother’s chagrin- outside my head.
Maybe I could somehow cheat my way out of this disastrous death to my plans for this turn? After all, going to jail beat the deal hands-down, as first-of-all in any fair society one is there because justice is being served. Certainly not due to circumstances seemingly completely out of one’s control! And there was always the chance one would roll his way out before wasting as much time and distance, and more often than not I seemed to have the fortuitous likelihood of shaking and rattling my way to free parking from there, where our cousins had taught us to keep a five hundred dollar bill waiting for the lucky lander…
But it wasn’t to be, as even then I was insistent on rigorous honesty, feeling certain that the glory of winning at the expense of my integrity was only another way of losing- albeit often carefully veiled. (It is appropriate for me to introduce here the truth that I had no concept of doing anything purely for the Glory of God at this stage of my life- lest we are tempted to give me too much credit for my perspective.)
All this to illustrate, I am putting it mildly when I tell you that this nearly continual necessary re-working of seams has brought me near to exhaustion.
Yet through it all, God Himself did not weary. Many times I confidently told Him that I was sure I couldn’t finish the race- that beyond a doubt I would not finish well, and every time He was there to remind me that I could and I would, but only because I belong to Him and He has my back… And that what I know to be true concerning Him and yet can not see, I should and must trust.
This particular season of accumulating personal loss has not concluded, and maybe it never will… even still I know that I am not to be undone, because I am no longer all there is to me. I may be wounded and I may forever bear the scars of grief but I will not be crushed because God through the death and the life of a part of Himself, his Son, Jesus Christ, has favored me as His own child.
This privileged ownership means also, that today is not all there is, and today will never be all there is… so I will keep mending and reworking those seams by the Grace of God. And I will keep longing for and hoping for and working for tomorrow. And I will continue to pray that by His Grace my brothers and sisters also will retain this very real hope and that it will remain alive and burning in our souls!
Copyright 2017. L. L. Shelton.
A word for wives and mothers, especially young wives and mothers:
Have you fallen victim to those books and articles that insist that if you simply do this or that- your marriage, your children, your family will become this or that… Burn those. The Bible does not offer any such guarantee.
God through The Bible, His Word to us, gives you and me one mandate: Do your best to learn of me and of my son who stands ready to save you; learn to love me, and to show your love through obedience to me… And you will have my blessing. Everything else is a surprise. Get used to it. And trust me.
Therefore, if we aren’t sure of what our own obedience looks like, we better dig deep into the Word and become sure; for while God offers no guarantees outside of our own salvation, He does insist that the best chance each of our loved ones has for a blessed and healthy life is to learn of such life and to begin to desire it because we model it for them. He also makes it painfully clear that each one we love may not come to know Him and that the ones who do come to know Him will be made to seek, find, trust, love, and obey on each one’s own private journey of faith. We will not be enabled to give anyone salvation. We will not be invited to directly participate in the inner journey. It is a very private lifetime encounter exclusively designed for the individual soul.
And while I remain convinced that no other work has the potential for greater positive impact on society than that of being a good wife and mother, personally I am truly grateful that by some miracle of grace, every time my job gets harder- I find the strength to pray harder and to work harder; and it is such a sweet surprise to realize that Our Father is working through me to bring about His best will in spite of my own sin, my own lack of this or that, my own lack of perfection. It is an additional gift from a generous Father, and it is available to all of his saved children. ❤️
Matthew 22 (22:36-40)
Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton
Here am I.
I’m so confused.
Standing here wondering
What more have I to lose…
My only hope,
How this came to be
And the purpose in His hand.
I need to know.
My drug’s the clarity I seek.
When I find it for a moment
I can scarcely breathe;
Everything is slowed.
Whirlwind ride that’s killing me,
Brought to a pause and I
See Whom I believe.
Copyright 2016, L.L. Shelton
My Beloved Father in Heaven,
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this plea in a public place for I hope that it will find a home in the hearts of others who want these same things for which I pray.
Please forgive me when I fail you and provide me the strength to be more nearly representative of you each day.
By your Grace, please allow that I am never made to stand against my fellow human being. Yet if it must be, grant me the fortitude to bear it.
By your Grace, allow me rather in spite of all my human frailty to forgive, and yet in Truth to uphold your mercy and your justice knowing and accepting you to be the judge of souls and that your’s is the only legitimate judgement; giving me leave to enjoy others in both loving fellowship and loving witness and permitting me the discernment to realize the difference.
By your Grace, please allow my human American brothers within and outside of The Faith sight, that we may continue to imagine a pure vision free of the persecution of one another, and full of love for one another as human beings created in your image.
By your Grace, allow America to continue in true wisdom and to provide a secure home in which all have opportunity to worship you freely; a home for the weak, the downtrodden, and the oppressed- though it be of great cost to us, and do continue your blessing upon us and make a great human family of us in spite of our diversity and because of our commonalities.
By Your Grace, My Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
2017, L.L. Shelton
Have you heard the one about the psychotic and the neurotic? The psychotic knows that two plus two equals five. The neurotic knows that two plus two equals four, but he worries about it. There’s an education is this bit of humor!
How does one arrive at a disturbed character? This is not a rhetorical question. One arrives at a disturbed character by continually ignoring three things:
1. The Genuine Existence of God
2. The Authentic Character of God
3. The Justice System of God
The Bible tells us clearly that every human is equipped with a conscience and that the conscience is there to point him or her toward God; to reveal His very genuine existence as well as His authentic character, and to make obvious His definition of right and wrong- His system of justice.
The Scriptures also tell us that the man or woman who does not see any benefit in retaining this knowledge of conscience will eventually be possessed of the depraved mind that is left to him or to her. The Bible tells us that this depraved mind is capable of all types of evil- probably beyond what some who have thoroughly nurtured the conscience are capable of imagining.
This depraved mind is the one that displays the disturbed or disordered character; this mind is held captive by a system of belief that has developed a set of core values (to direct the soul) that is selfish to the degree of being diabolical. This mind is the antithesis of the mind of God, if you will allow, an anti-Christ.
How does one keep himself or herself from arriving at this reprehensible state?This also is not a rhetorical question. The answer is evident. One must continually nurture belief in the three things one’s conscience has been designed to bring to attention:
1. The Genuine Existence of God
2. The Authentic Character of God
3. The Justice System of God
From the beginning, each and every time one is situationally placed so that it is necessary to purposely acknowledge these three things one must be made to do so- forced by his or her own will to acknowledge the conscience or by the will of an earthly authority figure such as a parent, a teacher, or other official to do so as the conscience must be the arbitrator of what many theologians refer to as common grace; and the truly converted under specific grace if momentarily and specifically submissive, shall be aided further by yielding to the will of The Holy Spirit of God within the self so accessing the wisdom and power available to him or her.
The person who consciously and continually engages in an effort to refute or to silence the conscience will naturally digress to the condition of the disturbed character. The disturbed character will appear as having no conscience and will yet be a “functioning” member of the community. A disordered character is displayed by one who was once only disturbed but has now slipped into the realm of the surely dysfunctional (rendered incapable of carrying out the requisite responsibilities of society).
The failure to nurture the conscience is the failure to nurture Truth and will surely result in the demise of the individual and the eventual destruction of any general population in which these individuals are prevalent.
Notably, George K. Simon, Jr., Ph.D., has done a beautiful job of further explanation, and in giving socially acceptable as well as academically responsible language to the subject matter found here and in our Bibles (particularly in the book of Romans), in the book he authored: Character Disturbance, The Phenomenon of Our Age.
We must take seriously the view of ourselves found in God’s Holy Word for the protection of ourselves, our loved ones, and for the benefit of humanity as a whole. May God help us!
Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton