In March or April if you drive along the Kansas Turnpike you will most likely see the Flint Hills on fire. Thousands of acres are often lit creating a smoke filled landscape during the day and an eerie red light at night. At nighttime it almost feels like you are driving through the depths of hell. The blazing fires are controlled burns to improve the health of fields and prevent unwanted growth. The ashes provide extra nitrate to the soil. When the fire dissipates everything is dead creating a sullen, black landscape.
Amazingly within a few weeks the same area transforms into a beautiful living, breathing sanctuary of green fields. The new brightness of the plants covering the landscape speaks to the spirit of God that is in all creation. A spirit that boldly, says the divine is present and here with us. A spirit asking us to be cocreators in this world ensuring that nature is taken care of. The act is also a reminder of how through death new life is waiting to vivaciously spring forth.
Sometimes it this through the fires of our life where we find new life. It hurts. It's painful. It changes us. But the new creation that emerges is bold and beautiful living with a new understanding of the preciousness of life.
What fires have you been through and how did it impact your faith? Are there obstacles we are avoiding because we fear what we do not know? Our faith is a part of us and is affected by what we encounter and live through. So what role does faith have during these life experiences? Let's explore this further.
Trials and tribulations are scary. We often fear certain events and avoid moving forward. Unexpected situations devastate us, and can tear us a part. However when we walk through the adverse situations of life somehow we emerge stronger, better, and more capable then we ever have been before. Adversity make us grow as people and makes us seek something greater outside of ourselves. It is through these acts that hope emerges. Faith develops and goes deeper as we seek and find understanding for the events that transpired. It is in faith and understanding where we develop hope for the future. Hope for ourselves, hope for others, and hope for life in general.
The video below is Nick Vujicic who was born without arms and legs speaking at Telford State Prison about his life and the hope we can have through the difficulties of life. Nick travels around the world speaking and inspiring individuals. This video is quite long but if you have time to watch some of it I am sure you will be amazed and find the message of hope emerging through him.
Refining Ourselves Through Adversity
Refining usually refers to separating the impurities out and purifying the substance. But something has to be placed or go willingly through the fires to be refined. Adversity also refines us. However often when adversity strikes it is hard to stay positive. Staying hopeful in the midst of adversity is a skill. You can check out the article "How to Stay Hopeful and Resilient Through Adversity" by Joe Wilner for some ideas. The article "Refine Your Life" talks about the life cycle and how growth and development are cyclical. It gives some great ideas on how to figure out where you are in the cycle. One important aspect I want to draw attention to is reframing obstacles. The article indicates we need to ask these questions.
1. What can I learn from this?
2. Where else in my life is the same obstacle showing up, and how has it served me?
3. What can I do to address it?
4. Where is my opportunity to stretch?
5. Am I ready to let this obstacle go?
Asking these questions changes your perspective to be focused on development and life balance. Too often we feel powerless with adversity but we actually have a lot of choice in how we respond. Faithfully responding to adversity by choosing to seek positive growth is powerful. This does not mean we cannot feel dejected, hurt, etc. These are important feelings that should be acknowledged and felt. They are part of the process but at some point we must choose to reframe our thinking. We must choose to overcome our adversity.
Whatever you are walking through know there is hope. New life is waiting to vivaciously spring forward in you its just a matter of time. Go through the process at your own pace, reframe your perspective, ask the questions that matter to you and move forward. Allow the divine to guide you and may you find faith in the process.
Thank you for all those that follow along each week! We appreciate all the positive feedback and support.
This week ask the questions above about a situation you are facing?
Our guest blogger this week is Mellissa Ann Myers. She is 48 years old and has been sober for almost 7 years. Mellissa works as a Case Manager for Valeo Behavioral Healthcare; the adult mental health center for Shawnee County. She loves the social work aspect of this job and being able to help clients. Mellissa is also a classic movie buff and lives in Topeka, Kansas with her husband Justin. We are so thankful to have Mellissa share her heart and story with us today about how she found God and how it changed her life.
On January 9th 2013, I was done; done with life. I was ready to end it all. I was strung out on meth and drinking every day. I had lost all hope and had nowhere to turn. I was alone, jobless and homeless. The only way I earned any money was by selling the drug I was using, but my habit always came first so I didn’t make a lot of money. What little money I did make, I used to buy liquor so I could come down, sleep for a few hours and get back to hustling.
On this particular night I was crashing in a trap house and it was disgusting, roach infested and filthy!! But, it was a roof over my head and it was so cold outside so it was better than that. I had enough dope for a few days, I was high but decided I needed to be higher because my surroundings made me sick. The roaches were everywhere and when I went to pull out my gear to make up a shot, roaches started crawling out of my bag. It was horrible. I started to cry. I hated myself for where I was at and all I wanted to do was stay numb.
Everything hurt, my body was ravaged by meth and alcohol and I was just an empty shell of the person I used to be. The tears came again and they wouldn’t stop. I became angry because the tears were clouding my eyes and I couldn’t mix my shot. I told myself I was worthless and to stop being a baby and I immediately stopped crying. I hadn’t cried for a very long time so it was very uncomfortable.
As I sat there getting ready to stick a needle in my arm, I heard a voice say, “I’m here.” Most people know meth and lack of sleep cause delusions and that is what I thought it was; it wasn’t. Those two words gave me what I needed to stop what I was doing, get on my knees and cry out to God for help. “God if that was you please hear my cry, I don’t want to die and I can’t live like this anymore please free me from this hell I am in.”
At that moment my phone rang and it was a woman I had met at an AA meeting. (A meeting I went to only to get a cup of coffee and out of the cold.) Immediately this woman told me that God put me on her heart and so she decided to call to see if I was ok. I started crying and for the first time in a long time I was able to be honest and say, “No, I am not ok, I need help and I’m ready.”
This amazing woman came to me and took me out of that hell hole and helped me find my way. When I told her about hearing what I heard she let me know that, this is how God works. At that moment I knew I had no other choice but to surrender my life and will to God if I wanted to live.
I have not faltered from His path and have remained sober for the last 6 years; almost seven. This is the longest I have ever been sober since the age of 14. God blesses me everyday with another day of sobriety and I am so grateful!!!! His blessings are endless!!! Because of God I am a better person; I live my life for Him because He gave so much for me. This is only part of my story, but for me the most important part. This is what led me to believe in God again and how I got to where I am today!
Mellissa your vulnerability is incredible! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us. Our faiths become stronger when we are able to hear stories like yours.
This week listen to that still small voice leading you. Is there someone who needs your support right now? Go an be that support!
Happy New Year! Let us give thanks for the year that has unfolded and take time to envision what 2020 can be for us. Last year we posted about Spiritual Goal Setting. I encourage you to take a look at the article to identify what goals may work for you in this coming year and how to set them.
I find it important to reflect on what has happened this year. Let's look closer at some of the awesome content from the blog.
This last year I took on the endeavor of providing an in depth look at various spiritual practices each month. I will continue to do this in 2020 to expand our ideas of what a spiritual practice is. Spiritual practices help connect us with God and shape our discipleship. Continuing to find what practices work for us in our busy lives is imperative so that we can continue our spiritual formation. So lets quickly list the ones I covered this last year with links to the posts. I encourage you to find the ones that work for you and practice them.
1. Exercise and Movement
2. Dwelling in the Word
5. Neighborhood Walking
6. Intentional Breathing
7. Being in Nature
I want to thank the wonderful guest bloggers we had this year who I have listed below. I have added links to their posts and encourage you to read them. 2020 will bring some new voices to the blog with lots of unique perspectives. The first post of the year will be a guest blogger sharing her awesome story of finding God in her life.
William Ottens "Diversity and Your Bookshelf"
Justin Delong "The Welcoming Mission of Jesus"
Emily Hartford "Finding God's Spirit in Parenting"
Steve Hensley "The Similarities Between Comedy and Church"
Dakota Matthes "Dakota's Faith Journey"
James O'Neil DeAtley "What Do You Wish To See? A Divine Invitation to Awakened Life"
Caleb Brian "A Glimmer in Time: A Snapshot of Science and Religion"
Anna Rider Gard "The Connection"
New Year Hopes
This coming year may each of us move forward along our faith journey. May we let our curiosity run wild as we ask the difficult questions. May we find joy in the simplistic things around us. May we value the people we are with and pay attention to the spirit speaking through them. May we search for a deeper connection with the divine.
May we experience joy, love, and happiness. May we suffer the best we can during difficult times. May we be comforted and loved unconditionally in our not so good moments. May we give our time and talent to others. May we find a faith community to journey with. May we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to those around us connecting us deeper to them. May we walk confidently knowing we are loved for who we are. May we believe we are valued and have worth despite any worldly events that unfold. May we live love each day!
Thank you to all those that have contributed to the blog this year and those who continue to follow us each week!
Go out and celebrate the New Year!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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Copyright Midlands Mission Center 2020
Community of Christ
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