Keeping It Vertical
Posted on 03/12/2015
Cross-posted from Dee’s Cache.
I woke up this morning with several thoughts on the purpose of my life, all because of a video I watched on the life of this talented 9-year-old girl showing off her skills in basketball and math. I got to thinking about what I was like as a nine-year-old and was filled with grief. As I iron my shirt and pants, my mind began to question as it does sometimes when I can’t think of parts of my childhood without grimacing. I begin to wonder why I experienced hurt before the age of ten, fear and resentment in my preteens, and the loss of one of my first friends and my immediate younger brother on my sixteenth year. Then I thought about people who experienced what I did and had a rougher time overcoming it. I thought about people who experienced far worse and were not able to survive it. I thought about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t. And I realized the difference was God.
When I hear of people who were once in the faith (commitment and relationship with God and Jesus Christ) lose that faith due to extenuating circumstances, I am equally compassionate and disappointed. Compassionate in the sense that I understand the struggle. Before, I held such a strong resentment in my heart that it was hard for people, even family, to understand me. I didn’t question God’s existence; I just questioned his consideration and love for me. How could He love me if things like this happened? It took the death of my brother Tonbara to shake me out of it. Imagine! To think that having one of my best friends and immediate brother die before me, could point me to the grace of God is something one could say sounds far-fetched, silly… but it happened to me. It made me acknowledge the sovereignty of God and how very real He was in every aspect of life.
So I put on my socks and shake my head in awe, thinking of the saints like Job and Paul. They had every reason to resent their circumstances. Job lost EVERYTHING, and what he had left encouraged him to “curse God and die.” He could’ve and no human on the face of this earth would blame him (except maybe his ridiculous excuses for friends). But even in his despair, even when he complained and wondered about his condition, he never once cursed God because he kept his thoughts vertical.
What do I mean by vertical? It’s essentially looking outside oneself and seeing God in the midst of it. For example, with his scathing boils and his nonsense companions provoking more hurt on him, Job praised God’s power and sovereignty while imploring God to reveal the reason for his hurt and suffering. He asked why but didn’t allow a spirit of doubt in the Creator. In the same way, Paul was in chains for Christ, and even though he suffered hardships, he counted it as great gain… even to the point of death. Even the man after God’s own heart, David, suffered countless hardships, some manufactured from his own foolishness, He didn’t blame God for what happened to him.
As I’m putting on my watch and bracelets, I think about my life and wonder how to keep my mind vertical rather than horizontal, horizontal in the sense that I allow self-pity and resentment to keep me from looking up. I think about the delays and “denials” currently and in the past and marvel at how easily it is to be discouraged or disillusioned about God’s purpose. How can I encourage someone when I’m not encouraged?
Then I think about Job and Paul once again. If they had gone through all of that and lost hope, people like me wouldn’t be encouraged by their testimony when we’re going through tough times. So by keeping their thoughts vertical and having a testimony of peace and joy in spite of their circumstances, I have hope in mine.
So then this prayer came to mind:
“Lord, I thank you for your Sovereignty and your unconditional love for me. I thank you that you thought of me when you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for me. I thank you that I am adopted into your family as a child of God, a daughter of the King. I know that the plans you have for me are good, to give me a future and a hope. When I think of the past, I often wonder if that was part of your plan. When I think of the present, I’m anxious about whether this is also part of your plan and if I’m walking in the purpose you have for me. But I know that every good and perfect gift comes from you. So I ask that you help me to allow your healing blood to soothe away the pain of the past. I thank you for restoring me to yourself, whole and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. I pray that I will be made whole in my heart and mind according to your will.
With my present circumstance, if it was because of my foolishness as David, I pray that you lead me out of it with a testimony to encourage someone in the future. However, if this present circumstance is according to your will, please give me the grace and joy that only comes from you to strengthen me on the journey. Help me to keep my mind focused on you in this season, knowing that surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life… and that you will never leave nor forsake me through it all. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.”
By the time I put on my jacket and grab my keys, I’m smiling. I want a life where my thoughts align me to the will of God; vertical thinking. So I surrender my past hurts and present worries to God, He knows them all, and He gives me peace because I know that He’s heard me and will accomplish the good work He’s begun in me.
So friends, be encouraged and keep your mind vertical. God exists and he’s working things out for your good because He loves you.