Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

It’s not always easy to recall the two years I spent running from the Lord, because those memories seem so distant and foreign to me. But, I share stories from that time because I know for so many standers recounting my path to restoration is helpful in order to better understand the heart and mind of a prodigal. My desire isn’t to rehash past events that bring about guilt and shame, but to paint a picture of how far God has brought me is such a short period of time. Thankfully, Thanksgiving of 2015 is one holiday experience I can retell but never have to relive.

Let’s take a glimpse back at November of 2015. Tommy and I had been separated for nearly eight months and were living in two households. I went to great lengths to distance myself from him, only communicating about matters that directly involved our children. Earlier in the month he appeared at one of our divorce hearings and pleaded with the judge for an extension in our case. The extension was granted and my desire to be permanently estranged from my husband was foiled. Needless to say, I was angry! I was angry at the judge for taking pity on him. I was angry at my lawyer for not convincing the judge otherwise. I was angry at Tommy for delaying the inevitable. But, most of all, I was angry that I wasn’t getting my way. My pride and rebellion was at an all-time peak, and anything that stood in the way of promoting my sinful lifestyle infuriated me.

I know Tommy felt the wrath behind my anger, even though he never openly communicated that to me. I intentionally ignored his messages and when I did respond, I kept the texts short. As Thanksgiving was approaching, the messages and phone calls between us increased. With every interaction, I could feel the tension mounting. We were met with making decisions about things we had never had to face in previous years and this was new territory for both of us. It was especially challenging because we did not have the same expectations regarding the holidays. 

Tommy wanted nothing other than to celebrate with me and the boys. He longed to take part in the Thanksgiving traditions we had created together over the past ten years. I would have probably been open to the idea of a joint holiday had Tommy been willing to go along with my wicked plans and not attempted to delay our divorce proceedings. But, my schemes went awry and I intended to punish him for his lack of cooperation. I was so blinded by my anger towards him that I couldn’t see his desires were genuine and good for our entire family. All I could see what that he was standing in the way of what I wanted, which was a declaration to end our marriage. Despite his request for togetherness, I chose to host Thanksgiving for family and friends in our home without him.

That year Thanksgiving was different. After the feast was over and my guests had left, a deep loneliness set in and the reality of my choices started to hit home. I was living life entirely on my own and it was solely based on my poor decisions. The company of my friends and family could not fill the void that I had hoped it would. In reality, Tommy could not fill that void either, but turning back to my marriage would have been a step in the right direction. I had fallen so far out of the will of God that I had tunnel vision. I was consumed with my will instead of God’s will and I was seeking the happiness that I felt I deserved. I was willing to do anything to please my selfish desires, and oftentimes in ways that were damaging and sinful.

Praise the Lord, God gave Tommy clarity to see right through the devil’s schemes. That Thanksgiving, Tommy continued to respond to me in love. I knew I had hurt him deeply, which was my intent, but he did not retaliate or respond to my sin with sin. The Father provided him comfort and love as well as great restraint, which didn’t go unnoticed. Tommy could have easily faltered in his stand due to the cirumstances, but his foundation for standing was grounded in the love of Christ. His absence from our family dinner wouldn’t deter his fight for our marriage. He knew that the Lord had more work to do in my heart, so he thanked God for the process and prayed for me that holiday weekend, as he did every weekend. Tommy’s spirit of gratitude wasn’t based around a day, but it was a lifestyle choice that he chose daily. 

The following Thanksgiving, we celebrated our first holiday as a restored family. I still get emotional as I reflect on the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind and set my feet back on the path to righteousness. The Father took our dead marriage and restored it back to life in a miraculous way that only He was capable of doing. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4-5

Dear friends, I know many of you may find yourselves in desperate family situations. Some of you may even question what you have to be thankful for in the midst of your crisis. I want to remind you of the Father’s may provisions, the greatest of all, a Savior. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to take our place and bear our burdens on the cross. Let’s never forget to be grateful for the gift of the cross! We can also come to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing we serve a Master that is actively working and fully capable of performing God-sized miracles in our marriages. Despite the longsuffering, let’s be thankful for the process of transformation taking place in our lives, and let us continue to pray for our prodigals to make their way home to Him!

Christian Walk, Faith, Forgiveness

Nothing is Hidden from God

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.”Have you ever attended a Bible study or been sitting in a Sunday morning service and thought the pastor was speaking directly to you? You find yourself looking around the room to see if anyone is staring in your direction. Can others simply look at you and see the transgressions you have committed before the Lord? Is it that obvious?

You envision a bright neon sign above your head with an arrow pointing down as the lights flash GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. This isn’t necessary an attack from the pastor in the pulpit, but rather the Holy Spirit convicting you of unconfessed sins. Sometimes we are gently reminded of our wrong doings and other times, a spotlight is shown on us so we are forced to face them. No matter how hard we try to conceal our sins, one thing is certain, we can never hide them from our Father in Heaven.

I look back on the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, immediately following their fall, when they ate of the forbidden fruit. For the first time, the realized they were naked and begin gathering leaves to cover themselves. When they heard God walking in the garden, they frantically looked for a good hiding place amongst the shrubs in hopes that God wouldn’t find them or look upon their nakedness.

Did they really think the creator of the universe, the God that breathed life into the dust of the earth and formed their flesh, wouldn’t be able to find them? Even if Adam and Eve managed to successfully camouflage themselves and blend into the foliage, God didn’t have to search for them. He was with Adam and Eve all along and knew exactly where they were.

One could look back on this story and laugh. Who did Adam and Eve think they were kidding? But, all too often, we play the exact same game of hide and seek with the Lord. Whether we deceive ourselves and legitimize our sins like Adam and Eve, or become complacent and no longer fear the consequences of our actions, we forget our God is omnipresent.

So much of our time is spent finding ways to cover up our wrongs instead of exposing them to the light and seeking help. By hiding our fleshly desires, we may be able to fool onlookers, and perhaps even our loved ones at times, but our Heavenly Father is aware of our intentions. He knows every thought we think and every action we take.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:13‬

God gave us His truth so we would learn from the mistakes of those that walked the path before us. If we are grounded in God’s Word, reading and seeking the Bible, we are less likely to be deceived by Satan’s cunning half-truths and outright lies. We cannot allow the enemy to twist God’s Words into what our itching ears want to hear.

When left to our own devices, we feed our selfish desires and let pride rule our hearts. The sin of pride led to Lucifer’s fall from the heavens. Pride also led to the fall of Adam and Eve, and has infected the hearts and minds of all mankind. We must put off pride and replace it with the desire to please God and promote His glory instead of our own.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Listen on SoundCloud
Listen on YouTube