My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for February, 2012

It’s time to accept those who are different

“I’d have to change my response to the wedding vows from ‘I will’ to ‘I’ll do my best with God’s help’.” That did not go over very well with the minister and his wife with whom I was having this conversation. It was years ago, I don’t even recall why we were talking about this, but my response had greatly offended him and his response had not hidden that fact.

It keeps amazing me that people can seem to be getting along so well, yet offenses, misunderstandings, differences and disagreements can not only divide us, but cause an end to relationships, or even worst, cause people to make enemies of each other.

Time teaches that differences/disagreements/etc are normal happenings in life. However, I think the greater lesson is that our responses can paint very accurate pictures of where we are at various stages, and therefore can be the impetus for personal growth.

The idea of standing before God and saying, “I will,” to me meant writing a blank cheque of commitment to someone as we stepped in an unknown future, and it filled me with terror. Yet, in “Meeting God at Every Turn” as I read Philip Lader’s vow to Linda Ann LeSourd (Catherine Marshall’s stepdaughter), something within me exhaled and I finally got it.

Part of Philip’s beautifully written vow read, “…the “I will” said today is not so much fact accomplished, as responsibility assumed… you and I are commissioned by this wedding to make God’s love believable to the world. By His grace however, we have different gifts, and these beg quarrels. When frustrated by your tenacity of opinion, I shall not waive my own, but shall honestly and patiently seek resolution…”

When I think of how different we are — we can respond to conflicts, successes, challenges, pain, disagreements and even pleasure differently. Even if we’ve been raised in the same household we can still respond to life in very different ways. I believe our differences were meant to be complementary and not used as reasons for division.

However, as we live out life in its varying arenas – relational, religious, political, etc. “making God’s love believable to the world” still seems the most difficult thing for us to do?

In Acts chapter 10 Peter was being transformed by God’s lesson on acceptance. In a vision, as Peter dismissed the very idea of eating or being involved in any way with “unacceptable” things transformation took place when he exchanged his way of seeing things for God’s way.  It was time for the hostility between Jews and Gentiles to be faced, for hearts to be opened and for arms to be extended in love to the unacceptable.

God’s purpose has not changed, his reconciling love has always been extended to the whosoever – no matter how wide the cultural or ethnic divide. His heart has not changed, He still desires that ALL persons be brought into an intimate relationship with Him.

Acceptance becomes easier, I believe, when we realize that we would have been included with those who were condemned as unacceptable. Unacceptable, but for God’s grace and His command of not calling anything impure (unacceptable) that He had made clean.

As we represent Christ, His love, grace, mercy & forgiveness have to be the guide to our interactions with the “different” people in our world. His love has to touch those who have been destined to walk in the reach of His light that shines through us, and His acceptance of the whosoever has to be the standard by which we measure our acceptance of others.

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Impelled at the point of surrender

Have you ever started a journey to a certain place, yet found yourself in a different location realizing that it was where you needed to be all along?

As I continued my study in Acts I started listing the different seasons of the early church: times of power and growth, peace and favor, obedience and courage, death and persecution…

Stephen had just been stoned to death and Acts 8:1 says, “…a great persecution broke out against the church… and all except the apostles were scattered …” These acts of persecution that were intended to destroy the church were being used by God to fulfill the great commission. Once again I felt unsettled by the reminder that God still allows, and moves through painful and discomforting circumstances.

I was amazed by the actions of the disciples, for though they had been thrust from their places of comfort, security and familiarity it is recorded that they preached the Word in all the “displaces” of their persecution.

Once again I was led to one of Catherine Marshall’s books, “Meeting God At Every Turn.” I didn’t know why I felt the need to track down her book, but at a time when we are being taught to declare and decree what we want, to demand an end to our discomfort  — what about a time of surrender?  Trusting God to work through us to accomplish His purpose no matter in what season we find ourselves.

“In Meeting God at Every Turn”, as Mrs Marshall traversed through some tough decisions and challenges she does this intentional probing of her life, her heart, her motives.  As she examined her life, I started examining mine, and felt deeply shaken by the awareness that there was a part of me that I kept closed, protected, even from God. Protected from that place of complete surrender, lest surrender takes me the way of Calvary — that place of “others-living,” where it’s not about my space and comfort but it’s a willingness to deny me, ALWAYS, for the cause of Christ.

This is the place where I had not intended to journey but was a journey that I needed to make — broken, honest and exposed before God, I surrendered everything…

One thing I know about the Word is that it’s active and alive. It probes our heads and hearts, challenges our places of comfort, exposes our motives and reveals hidden things with the intention of transforming our lives. For if the Word has no power to impact our living, if there is no intimate personal relationship with our Savior, if there is no indwelling of the Spirit to empower, lead and counsel, if there is no Difference Maker, then what would be the point? We could do life anyway we see fit. But at the point of our surrender to God, I’m convinced that’s when we are most powerful, where no matter what impels us, our hearts and lives can affirm, God’s Kingdom come, His will be done….

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