God Box

Monday, October 22, 2012

A friend recently loaned me the book The God Box by Mary Lou Quinlan, and said she thought I would enjoy it. She added, "It will remind you of your mother." That was all I needed to hear. I knew that anything that would remind me of my mother would be a good read. My mother (we affectionately call her St. Mary) is a saint above saints, a prayer warrior, a model mother, and my dear friend. Quinlan shares the beautiful story of her own prayer warrior mother in the book.

In the midst of grieving for the loss of her beloved mother, Quinlan finds her mother's "God Box," a private collection of notes to God. Mary Finlayson (note: our moms share the same first name) had jotted down prayer requests to God on behalf of family, friends, and strangers and stuffed them into boxes. These petitions spanned twenty years of Mary's life. Imagine the emotional journey that Mary Lou and her family took as they uncovered request after request, the joys and the sorrows of the last two decades that Mary had given to God.

Mary Lou writes, "Mom's faith never flagged. She never stopped hoping for a cure or a miracle." Isn't that a tag line we would all be honored to have after our name - "His faith never flagged." "Her faith never flagged." Instead of grousing and giving up, what if we all kept our faith strong and gave our petitions up to God! This unfailing faith and prayer perseverance is what I see in my own mother.
Instead of a God Box, Mom writes her petitions in her devotional books and in her journals. Dozens of journals are stacked in corners of her bedroom, each containing the accounts of the lives of her family, the blessings of each day, and the petitions for each member of her brood. In her prayers she is bold and specific, recounting to God the trials and triumphs of each family  member. Her ultimate plea to God is for all of us to "walk humbly with our God" and to live in God's plan for our lives.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Mom is living her legacy, one filled with undying faith, abiding love, and persevering prayer. What a blessing! What a legacy! Thank you, God, for the power of a praying mother!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pencils come in all shapes, sizes, designs, and colors. One end is used to write; the other to erase our mistakes. I make lots of mistakes, so the eraser end of my pencils have worn thin.  People are a lot like pencils. We come in all shapes, sizes, designs, and colors, and we all make mistakes. Fortunately, God sent his son to die for us and erase our mistakes. He wants to forgive us and he will over and over.  But he wants us to ask for his forgiveness.

Then he expects us to forgive others ---over and over and over. When Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive, Jesus said seven times seventy. I believe Jesus used that huge number because he knew that we would eventually lose count and keep forgiving people over and over.\

But, what does it mean to forgive others?

When you forgive another person, you no longer allow their behavior to cause you anger, pain, bitterness, or resentment. When you choose not to forgive, you make the choice to hold on to your feelings of resentment, anger, and pain.

Forgiving another does not mean you will never again feel the pain or remember the thing that hurt you. The hurtful experience will be in your memory forever. By forgiving, you are not pretending the hurtful behavior never happened. It did happen. The important thing is to learn from it while letting go of the painful feelings.

Forgiveness is not about right or wrong. It doesn’t mean that the person’s behavior was okay. You are not excusing their behavior or giving permission for the behavior to be repeated or continued.

When you forgive another, it does not mean you wish to continue your relationship with them. This is a separate decision. You can forgive a person and live your life apart from them.

Let us accept God's forgiveness and then extend that to others - over and over again.

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I used to love the game Sorry! when I was a kid.  The game title comes from the many ways in which a player can prevent the progress of another player, while issuing an apologetic "Sorry!"

"Sorry!" Oh, how easily that word sometimes rolls off the tongue with no sincerity or depth of meaning. Often people think that saying the "sorry" word gets them off the hook for any sort of indiscretion.  True repentance though involves more than a token "sorry."

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." Remember that line from the popular 70s movie Love Story? I never did buy into that idea. Relationships involve all kinds of opportunities to apologize and to forgive.

Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Jennifer Thomas have identified five "languages" of an apology that when applied, can greatly enhance our relationships.

Expressing Regret
"I am sorry."

Accepting Responsibility
"I was wrong."

Making Restitution
"What can I do to make it right?"

Genuinely Repenting
"I'll try not to do that again."

Requesting Forgiveness
"Will you please forgive me?"

Usually, we don't get past step one when it comes to expressing a regret. We mumble a confession and then offer excuses and explanantions. The "language of apology" provides steps to lead us to be sincere and to make amends for our wrongdoings.

I wonder how many marriages could be saved by couples practicing persuasive apologies. How many children could grow up taking ownership of their wrongdoings or careless behavior by being taught how to apologize? How many work relationships could be strengthened by people offering sincere apologies?

The most important relationship that requires repentance is the one we have with Jesus Christ. Repentance is an essential element of the Christian faith.

"...repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)

"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

Let's use the "language of apology" in not only our relationships on earth but in the one that will give us eternal rewards - the one with our Heavenly Father.

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