Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pain with a Purpose

Pain.  We all have it in one form or another.  For you it might be a chronic physical illness such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or some other disease that leaves you feeling lousy all the time.  For others, it could be the emotional and financial loss suffered when your company has downsized or outsourced your position.  There are those who, because of their struggle with loss, depression, or simply the stress of everyday living, have turned to alcohol or drugs to medicate their pain.

Is it possible to find purpose in our pain?  Is there something bigger than ourselves that can make our pain bearable, almost "worth it"?  The Apostle Paul thought so.  No stranger to the pain and imprisonment that accompanied his persecution as a follower of Christ, he penned these words:

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. -- Philippians 1:12-14, NIV
I know a couple of women who have been battling cancer for years.  I have watched them suffer the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, seen them lose and regrow their hair, and have been amazed at the radiance in their countenance as they have time and time again acknowledged the presence and power of God to comfort and heal them.  Even though their faith has been tested because of their illness, the faith of countless others has been strengthened because of the way these faithful women of God have journeyed through the valley, giving testimony to God every step of the way.

God never said we would live without pain or loss.  In fact, his Word tells that we will have trials in this life.  But if we can allow God to work His purpose through our pain, then many will see and believe in the One who sustains and strengthens us in the midst of our suffering.  Just when your pain becomes too much to bear, remember that Jesus suffered agonizing pain on the cross so that we might be forgiven from the sin that separated us from God and spend an eternity in heaven with him, where there is no pain. 

The pain God has allowed to come into your life could be the very gift he uses to bring another soul into his kingdom.

Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Does God Really Care About Holiness?

Sin has been the struggle of every man and woman since the serpent beguiled Eve in the garden.  It didn't take much persuasion for him to alter the destiny of every human being created in the image of God.  There is a belief held among many Christians that the loving God who gave his only Son to forgive our sins, will forgive us even if we knowingly choose to sin, as long as we confess the sins we commit.  But that isn't quite how it works.  Sure, God will forgive our sins if we confess and repent, or turn away from them.  But, he also justly allows us to suffer the consequences of our sinful choices even when he forgives us for them. 

God's rules were not given to restrict us but to protect us from the inherent evil and dangers of living in a fallen world.  His requirement that we be holy as he is holy wasn't made to frustrate us, but to bring us to a place of peaceful, abundant living where our fellowship with him is unhindered by our sin.   Only by walking in obedience to his Word can we experience the joy and fulfillment that he promises us.  Trust me.  I know what I am talking about because I tried to live life outside the boundaries of his righteous laws for a number of years and am still suffering residual consequences from my own sin.

You might wonder, Does God really care about holiness?  Absolutely!  It was a number of years before I understood the agony behind Christ's words on the cross:  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  For a brief moment, which to Christ must have seen like an eternity, his Father turned his face away from him because of our sin.  He who knew no sin became sin for us and his holy Father could not bear to look upon that sin! 

God loves you so much that he wants to spend eternity with you.  While that is possible when you confess your sins and ask Christ to save you, you cheat yourself of the blessings of eternity while you are still on this earth.  In other words, you can not live in the fullness of all that God has for you if you are steeped in sin and living life on your terms.  Eternity doesn't start the day you go to heaven; it begins the moment you receive Christ as Savior!  So why would you want to do anything that would stand between you and the blessings of eternal life, especially on this earth?

It has taken decades for me to come to this realization for myself.  I received Christ as a young child, then rededicated my life to him as a teenager.  I studied his Word and was very active in my youth group during high school, but when I went away to college I began to drift away from God and indulge in the things my "freedom" and adulthood allowed me to do.  I partied, saw movies that to this day have seared ungodly images into my mind, and spent my time with people who either didn't know God or didn't care to live as though they did.  I lived with a tremendous amount of guilt and shame because I knew the truth, knew that God could see and was hurt by everything I did, yet chose to put him on the back burner while I exerted my rights as an individual.  After college, my behavior only deteriorated more but God's grace protected me from the full consequences of my sins, consequences which I deserved, because he knew that one day I would turn back to him in complete surrender.  I didn't escape without deep scars, however, and habits that I formed then always lurk in the background looking for an opportunity to resurface and ruin me for anything God might have for me to do.

I don't know what pet sin you may be holding onto.  Perhaps it is a relationship that you know God disapproves of or a tendency to eat or drink just a little too much.  Or maybe you are prone to use profanity, thinking that a curse word or two here and there isn't really that harmful.  Or it could be that you simply complain a little too much about all that is wrong with the world and the people in it.  What you do not realize is that every negative thing you say, every vile image you see with your eyes, and every seemingly innocent flirtatious gesture you make toward someone else's spouse is a foothold you give the enemy and a wedge you drive between you and God.  These are things we all struggle with, but God is swift to forgive and cleanse us from our sins if we will confess and turn away from them and walk in obedience to his Word.

Take it from one who has been there and done that.  Drop your sin like a hot potato and run like crazy into the arms of Jesus.  He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.  He understands the pull of this world and he is waiting to pull you into his arms and out of harm's way.  But he can only do his part if you do yours.  With the power of his Holy Spirit living inside you, it is indeed possible to live fully surrendered and obedient to God's Word.  It won't be easy, but believe me -- it will be so worth it!

Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Affair of the Heart

This Saturday's "Dear Dee Dee" column at Sisters in Cahoots! answered the question:  Is it okay for a married person to have a friendship with a person of the opposite sex?

Click HERE to read "An Affair of the Heart" at Sisters in Cahoots!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lean In, Lean Hard

Ever have one of those weeks when you couldn't see how you could possibly make it through?  Life seems full of weeks like that these days and I have learned that if I lean hard into God, he will indeed carry me through with his supernatural strength and the peace of his abiding presence.

Jesus tells us to come to him when we are weary and burdened and he will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).  In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases Matthew 11:28-30 this way: 
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
This paraphrase really captures the heart of what can happen when we realize that Christianity is not about religion, but about a relationship with Christ himself.  Religion teaches us that we fall short as imperfect human beings and places the burden on us to either perform and succeed or flounder and fail.  But a relationship with Christ gives us hope that we can make it through even our toughest challenges and most grueling days because Christ himself is with us every step of the way, filling us with his power, wisdom, love, and grace to live in victory for his glory.

If you find yourself weighed down by the cares of this world, overscheduled, overworked, and exhausted, lean in and lean hard on the everlasting arms of the One who will carry you and give you rest.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Who But God?

As a budding author with a heart for ministry and a passion for God's Word, I have at times been discouraged by the lack of book sales and scheduled events.  That is a common complaint of many new authors who hold full-time jobs or who because of family and other obligations have limited time and resources to market the things we have written.  I frequently have to remind myself that Dee Dee Wike Ministries is not my ministry but God's, and ultimately he is the one in charge of what will be accomplished, and when.  Still, God requires that I do my part by praying and sowing seeds, making contacts with bookstores and churches, and sharing his encouragement with others through writing and one-on-one ministry as he presents opportunities to do so.

All that said, God has done some pretty amazing things to let me know that he is very much involved in this ministry and is more than able to accomplish his purposes despite my lack of experience and knowledge.  Most recently, he orchestrated an opportunity to write for a Christian women's magazine, WHOA Women, in a very unique way.  When I had lunch at a friend's house one day (a friend I had not been with in well over a year), she handed me a copy of this magazine which she had picked up at Kroger, thinking I might be interested in writing an article for it because it was a faith-based magazine.  I had never seen nor heard of the magazine but I really liked the content so I submitted an article with a prayer and the hope that God might be able to use it somehow.  I was thrilled to find out that "Breaking the Cycle of Debt" would be published in WHOA's spring issue and that fellow Tennessean Dolly Parton would be gracing the cover!  Who but God could have placed that magazine in that store to be picked up by that friend and shared with me?  To God be the glory for his blessing to me!

Who but God could have taken the gift of one book to a waitress and turned it into the sale of twenty nine more copies to one restaurant owner so she could share God's encouragement with her employees and friends?  God is not just using the books he inspired me to write, but is using those who give them as gifts to encourage others who are facing challenges I will never know about.  This ministry is not about what I have written but about how God is working through many others who are sensitive to the leading of his Holy Spirit to share that encouragement with their friends and loved ones.  How exciting is that!

Who but God could take all the sins I have committed, the struggles I have endured, and together with his Word turn them into two books, three blogs, and a ministry of encouragement to others who are journeying through their own challenges?  Who but God could use any of us, flawed as we are, to accomplish his purposes on this earth?  Don't you just love that about him?  I do!

Whatever your calling is, commit it all to God and let him handle the details.  For me, there is no better manager or book promoter than him.  What he has done for me, he can do for you as long as you will do your best and leave the rest to him.  As I wrote in a devotional earlier this week, sowing seeds and nurturing our calling is tedious, tiring, and painful, but in the end God gives us a bountiful harvest of blessings so that we in turn might be a blessing to others.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Would Someone Please Turn on the Light?

The winding stretch of two-lane road I traveled was shrouded by a heavy cloak of darkness. As the rain beat against the windshield I found myself praying for just a little illumination to help me see the road before me and help me navigate the treacherous curves more safely.  But the darkness was so thick that nothing could penetrate it except the headlights of oncoming traffic, which were more irritating than illuminating.

As I continued my drive in the darkness of the early morning, I thanked God for the light of his Word, "a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105).  How many times through the years have I looked to his Word for answers and hope when the challenges of life were overwhelming or when I needed direction?  How many times has his Word been my shelter through the storms of life and protected me from the danger of self-destructive behavior because I have chosen to walk in his ways rather than my own? 

For people who don't know Jesus, darkness is a way of life.  But he came as the Light of the world to dispel the darkness, bring hope to the hopeless, and salvation to sinners like you and me.  He came "to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:  the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (Matthew 4:14, 16). 

This morning as I witnessed a beautiful sunrise on the way home, I couldn't help but rejoice that I have seen the Light.  Have you?  Do you know the One who calls you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)?  If not, you can know him simply by confessing your sins and asking him to forgive you and live in your heart.  Easter is coming, Jesus has risen, and he longs to have a personal relationship with you!  Open your heart to him today and he will fill it with his everlasting love, true fulfillment, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Will Your Garden Grow?

Many people eagerly anticipate the New Year as their chance to make a fresh start and move in a positive direction, but not I.  About two weeks into the New Year I quickly realize that I am the same old person I was on December 31, and no calendar is going to change that!

This year I have prayed that God would renew my enthusiasm for writing and marketing my books, but even more that he would confirm his calling and revive my passion for ministry.  Yet life continues to throw one curve ball after another and I feel totally distracted from his purposes and my plans.  No doubt many of us in ministry feel the same, whether we are writers, youth ministers, senior pastors, or dedicated parents just trying to raise godly children in an ungodly world (the most important ministry for many of us).

With the early arrival of spring this year, I couldn't wait to get outside and enjoy some garden therapy!  More than the New Year, Spring fills me with a renewed sense of hope, particularly as I watch my flowers grow.  After laboring for hours to prepare and plant my flower beds with perennial seeds I had recently purchased, then dragging and spreading bags of mulch for a little added beauty and weed control, I realized how weary and sore I had become,  yet I had a great sense of satisfaction at having completed a task that will yield a great deal of pleasure and joy as the seeds germinate and the flowers begin to grow and eventually bloom. 

After my quiet time I went outside to water my flowerbeds and see if any new plants were breaking through the soil.  As I prayed for God to speak a word of encouragement and confirmation regarding my speaking and writing ministry, he began to paint a picture from my very own garden.  I began to see that growing a ministry and marketing books is very much like planting and tending my own garden.  Preparing the soil, sowing seeds, and mulching are hard work which leaves me weary and sore.  Watering, though not as difficult, is time-consuming but critical to the development of young plants which will eventually grow into beautiful flowers that produce pollen, nectar, and seeds to nourish the birds, bees, and butterflies that will delight me with their visits in the weeks and months to come.  Maintaining the garden by weeding and watering the flowerbeds will be an ongoing part of ensuring the beauty and fruitfulness of my garden.

Your ministry or calling is a gift from God, as is mine.  God has equipped us with the gifts and abilities we have so we can serve him and make a difference in the lives of the people around us, for his glory.  But just as planting and tending a garden will require hard work and an ongoing commitment to tend it if we expect it to yield flowers and fruit, so will growing our ministries and following the calling God has placed in each of our hearts.  Therefore, “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Relish the Rut

When you woke up this morning, did you wish that things could be a little different than they actually are?  Is there something you are waiting for to happen, some dream that has yet to be fulfilled?  Perhaps you are doing all you can to succeed at some endeavor or a calling that God has placed in your heart, yet you don't see the open doors or results you expected to see at this point in your life.  That is where I find myself this morning and yet I know that God has a plan that he will reveal at just the perfect time.

Waiting for God to work in our lives, to answer our prayers, and to give us clear direction is difficult.  In a world of overnight sensations, high speed communication, and instant this-and-that, we somehow expect God to operate on our timetable.  But God doesn't always propel our books to best-seller status or give us the promotion we feel we deserved.  Sometimes he leaves us in the rut of our present circumstances where he teaches us that there can be ministry in the mundane activities of cleaning house, weeding flower beds, and caring for our families.  He gives us chances everyday to be faithful in the little things so that in due time, we can handle the larger things he has prepared for us.

Scripture tells us that "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10) and that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).  Knowing that God has his eye on you and that in his perfect timing he will fulfill his purpose in your life, relish the rut you are in, enjoy God's presence even in the midst of mediocrity, and look for your extraordinary God in the ordinary circumstances of life.  He is right there with you.  Enjoy him today and know that as you are faithful in the little things of life, he is preparing you for greater works yet to come!

Friday, March 16, 2012

20-Minute Workout

Do you remember the exercise show, 20 Minute Workout?  This short-lived television program ran from 1983 to 1984 in the early morning hours on one of our local television stations.  I used to get up insanely early to work out with these three women who did aerobics on a rotating platform.  Now I get up before sunrise for a different kind of 20-Minute Workout.

The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that we are to take care of ourselves not only physically, but also spiritually.  In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, we are told, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives talkes; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some valuse, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

In taking care of these temples, let us focus not merely on our physical bodies which will eventually deteriorate.  Make sure that you also take care of your spirit by feeding on God's Word and talking to your personal spiritual trainer (God) each day.  As you age, your body will eventually wear out and fail to serve you.  But if you begin now to spend a few minutes each day nurturing your spirit, you can remain vital and useful until the day God calls you home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Take God at His Word

A few months back I found myself stranded at a Sonic Drive-In with a car that would not start.  With no money in the bank and payday half a week away, the last thing we needed was an expensive car repair!  I took out my smart phone and searched the Internet for a cause while a friend who knows cars stopped by to see if he could help us get the car started.  We found what we thought might be the cause, but still unsuccessful at fixing the problem, we eventually had to call the auto club to request a tow.  All the while I kept thinking about God's promise in Malachi 3:11:

"I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
We are faithful givers despite our financial challenges.  Time and time again, God has protected us from raging storms despite an aging roof, kept our twenty-five year old refrigerator in good working order despite its less than lovely appearance,  and kept us cool in the summers and warm in the winters even though our air conditioning unit is nearly thirty years old.  How could I not trust Him again to keep his promise?

I spent two hours waiting for help to arrive and when it finally did, the tow truck driver confirmed what I suspected the problem to be -- our theft system needed to be reset so gas would get to the engine and our car would run.  As God would have it, the driver was able to reset the theft system and the car started perfectly.  Our only expense was the $5.00 tip I paid the driver for his trouble.

No matter what challenge you are facing today, know that you can count on God to keep his promise to provide what you need.  If you don't know his promises, read your Bible!  You will find it full of promises you can depend on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trust and Obey

As pay day came and went, I breathed my customary semi-monthly sigh of relief and contemplated how to make my husband's paycheck cover all our family's expenses for the next two weeks.  It occurred to me that my greatest struggle for obedience is in the area of finances.  I know what Scripture teaches about tithing, giving, and stewardship, but I have such trouble truly trusting God in the area of money.  I still think that somehow I am responsible (and to a degree, I am) for making sure that all the bills get paid on time, the family gets fed, and most importantly, that I am obedient to God's commands in the area of giving.  Yet sometimes I have a hard time writing that tithe check and giving God the first fruits of all he has given us, especially when my bank account tells me that doing so doesn't make good sense.  What I see as financial impossibility God sees as a divine opportunity to bless me, if only I will let him.

Again I am reminded of God's promise in Malachi 3:10-11 (NIV):
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
Perhaps your greatest challenge is in another area of life such as eating, relationships, or the way you manage your time.  Whatever your struggle may be, know that God expects obedience in every area of our lives and that he rewards those who keep his commandments.  Obedience and trust in God demonstrate our love for him. Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).  Who of us doesn't desire more of God?  If we say that we love him, then let us not be hindered by our disobedience. Rather let us choose to obey his Word, claiming the promises that were written for us.

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey" (John H. Sammis).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Remember How?

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?  (Psalm 77:11-13, NIV)
As I was praying this morning about some of my own needs, God whispered, "Remember how I have kept my promises, met your needs, and walked with you through your valleys?"  He reminded me that he does not change; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

What is your big need today?  The one challenge you just don't feel like you can handle?  The good news is that you don't have to handle it alone.  There is One who stands ready to help you through, meet your needs, and strengthen you for whatever you are facing.  His Word is your assurance.  Stand on his promises and thank him for his faithfulness to fulfill them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dancing in the Shadow of Disappointment

What do you do when disappointment threatens to ruin an otherwise promising day?  Many of us cave into the painful and destructive emotions of sorrow, anger, and regret and throw up our hands in hopeless defeat.  We figure, why keep putting one foot in front of the other if all we have to look forward to are sore toes that have been trampled under the disappointments of life?

As children of God, we are not immune to these negative responses simply because of whose we are.  We are his, but we are human.  Still, God's plan for us is not that we wallow in self-pity, which we sometimes are prone to do, but that we look for the blessings in our seemingless negative circumstances and that we dance in the shadow of our disappointments.

"But how can I do that?"  you ask.  "What you are suggesting is humanly impossible."  Ah, that is true!  But with God, all things are possible (Mark 10:27).  God never promised us that life on this earth would be easy, even though we are his children!  But he has given us many promises in his Word to sustain and enable us to live joyfully if we will but believe that what he says is true. 

God's "no" is almost always for our benefit.  If we can trust in his goodness and in all that he has promised, then we can know with certainty that he has a better plan for us than anything we can ask or imagine.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"  If you love God and you know he loves you, then why not put your faith in his promises and dare to live joyfully in spite of your disappointment?

Laura Story released a song entitled "Blessings," which really drives this point home.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to listen to it and to find a reason to thank God in all circumstances, even the disappointing ones.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Making Time

Lately all it seems I do is drive from point A to point B and back again.  I am in a season of my life (a brief one, thankfully) that has me driving three hours per day and putting about seven hundred miles on my car each week.  Sadly, unlike a lot of truck drivers I know, I am not getting paid for all this driving but I am getting to see a lot of beauty along the highway as spring continues its blooming march toward summer.

While I am not complaining about all this commuting, I must admit I am a tad frustrated that I have fifteen fewer hours per week to manage my household, write, read, and study.  There is very little time to market my books or look for speaking engagements, but I have a lot of time to pray and ponder over what might lie ahead after this season of chauffeuring has ended.

There are those overachievers who would say that we can make time for the things that are really important to us, but I am not so sure.  I am still trying to figure out how to make time for all the things I want and need to do when there is so little time to work with!

I am still making time for the things that really matter -- my time with the Lord each day, praying and studying his Word; caring for the needs of my family; and making sure I pray for those in need.  For now, I am getting back to the basics and looking for God's lessons along the way.

Everyone is pressed for time these days.  The question is, are we making time to do the things that really matter from God's perspective?  Rather than be frustrated about what time we don't have, let us pray that God will help us make the best of the time we do have!  As we do our best with this precious commodity, I believe he will bless our efforts, however inconsequential they may seem to us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ELECTion Day

Today is Super Tuesday, the day when presidential primaries are conducted in several states across the nation.  We have the privilege and responsibility as U.S. citizens to vote for the presidential candidate we think best able to steer our country in a positive direction.  But as God's elect, we also have the moral and spiritual responsibility to vote our convictions and seek his choice for the highest office in the land.

As I prayed about today's election and for wisdom to choose the candidate who stands for the things that should matter to me as a Christian, I became keenly aware that no matter who is elected the next President of the United States, we will be in no better shape than we are now if God's elect don't begin to turn from their sins and live according to his laws.

Am I saying you shouldn't go out and vote?  Not at all.  But I am saying that the President of the United States, as much power as he may have, cannot turn this nation back to God.  It takes each of God's elect, living according to the biblical standards on which our nation was founded, to bring about positive and lasting change.

God, help us to finally realize that this country will never turn back to you and receive the favor and blessing of our former days until each of us rededicates ourselves to living according to the laws contained in your Word.  Restoring this nation to the biblical principles on which it was founded is not the responsibility of the President, but rather the responsibility of your "elect."  Lord, we humble ourselves, confess our sins to you, and cry out for your healing and blessing for our land today.  Certainly, we want you to place in office the person who can best lead us, but help us to understand that if we don't put you first and follow your lead, there is no hope for America.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Forever Yours Alone

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3, NIV

Staring at the sky, Beth wondered if God could hear her prayers. Her broken heart longed to be free of the sorrow it had carried for so long. She had released the one she loved so dearly into the hands of her Savior many times before, but clung tightly to her memories for fear of forgetting his face, his laughter, and the warmth of their friendship.  She knew that this would be the day she released him for good and moved on with her life.

“God, why did you bring Isaac into my life?  If you knew the pain of letting him go would be so great, why did you allow our friendship in the first place?”  There was no answer, only the silent knowing that God had ordained their special friendship to show her the depth of his own love for her and to help her understand that no human relationship could take the place of an intimate relationship with her Savior.  She had finally learned the true meaning of sacrificial love because she had experienced it in a very personal way the day she finally let their friendship go....

Have you ever felt the pain of loving someone deeply yet knowing that relationship would inevitably end because it was never meant to last?  If you had it to do all over again, would you willingly make yourself vulnerable to that kind of love?  Would it be worth the hurt to bare your soul to another human being? 
God created us to love and be in relationship with him and one another.  Yet we sometimes allow our love for others to come between us and God.  God will never settle for being runner up when it comes to our affections.  Sometimes the Lord will allow us to remain in a relationship even when we elevate it above our relationship with him, but often he will cause circumstances to come into our lives which will eventually cause separation from that person we love so dearly and drive us back into the arms of our Lord.

If you are struggling with a particularly close relationship which has left you hurt and confused, ask yourself if you have left your first love (Revelation 2:4) and invested too much of yourself in loving the other person.  Consider that perhaps the erosion of that relationship is God’s way of wooing you back to himself and protecting you from a far greater hurt down the road. 

God will take our deepest hurts and heal them with his redeeming love.  At some point in our lives he will allow us to love someone else so deeply that we catch a glimpse of the depth of God’s love for us.  But our earthly relationships, no matter how passionate and promising, will never compare with God’s amazing love for us.
Let God heal your broken heart today and invite him to be your first love.  You will never be disappointed in God’s love for you for it is an unfailing, unconditional, and everlasting love that no human can give.  Dare to give God your heart and he will give you his in return, for all eternity.  

...Looking heavenward, Beth let the string of the heart-shaped balloon she held slip through her fingers as she whispered, “Thank you, Jesus, for loving me through it all.  Lord, here is my heart – forever yours alone.”