An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

God's love never gives up on us

 God's love never gives up on us 
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
April 2017 copyright




A father's love for his little girl
 Several years ago I walked into the gym to workout  and noticed a man wearing a t-shirt that said, “Never give up.” God had spoken those words to me years ago when I was about to tell a client she had exhausted all the grace I had. “That was it; she was dismissed from participating in the program,” I thought. As I drove to her house and prayed, I felt God’s presence invade my vehicle and God firmly spoke to me and said, “Kathleen, never give up on people because I don’t.” I knew that if I did what I wanted to do, it would be contrary to what God wanted for this woman. I obeyed God and extended mercy and grace, with firm boundaries to this young woman. I treated her with love and respect. I am happy to say that years later she is highly successful and living a godly life. That experience taught me a valuable lesson that I live by today.
     The words, “never give up” on the man’s shirt  reminded me of how God never gives up on us. He never stops loving us or believing the best about us. I Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” (NIV) God loves us so much he gave his only son, Jesus, for us. God let go of what was dear to him so we could enjoy life abundantly no matter what. The beauty of the Easter story is that Jesus never gave up on God. Jesus’s love for his father never wavered, even as he hung dying.  I am sure he didn’t understand because how on earth could a good father allow such a thing? Loving isn’t always easy but it never fails.
     I Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter in the Bible and talks all about real genuine love for others and how we are to love. If I were a Bible translator, which I am not, I would translate it like this:

 “If I am a wonderful eloquent speaker but do not speak with kindness and a heart of love, I miss the drum beat and the all my notes are sharp and flat.
     If I am  smart, educated, and can see into the future; and if I believe in God so much I can move Mt. Everest, but do not daily love others, I might as well go back to bed and forget the day.
     If I am generous and give to the poor, if I sacrifice my body for others but don’t do it with the right motive, I have wasted my time and money.
    Real love never gets in a hurry, it waits and doesn’t push others. Selfless love is gentle and looks for what it can give; mature love makes others feel more important than oneself. it makes others feel valuable,important  and wanted and does not have a high opinion of oneself. A person walking in love, walks in humility.
     Love is not sarcastic or and does not put others down; it always looks for the best in others and sees the good in them and  getting angry is the exception, not the rule. Love does not keep remembering when others hurt them. It makes a conscious effort to put the hurt and bad memories behind them.
      Love does not go around telling of others failures, it covers their failures. Love tells the truth.
My sweet mother-in-law and step-daughter 
     Love does not ever quit. it believes and looks for the best in others, love always has hope for others and endures the roughest seas and the hottest deserts to make the relationship a good one.
     Love will help you win the race every time. You can loose your ability to do your talent, you can forget the things you studied for years, 
     None of us know everything and we need each other.
     When I was young, I could get by being immature, unforgiving and mad at others but it is time to grow up.
     At the end of the day, three things hang around, faith, hope and love. But you will be a winner in the eyes of God when you walk in love; love is all that matters.” 

      Real love takes sacrifice, it isn’t easy, but it is worth it. I challenge you to read I Corinthians 13 daily for a few weeks and let the words wash over you and speak to you. Ask God what he wants to speak to your heart about His love for you and how you are to love those around you.
     God and Jesus both demonstrated their love for us in the Easter story. Love, forgiveness  and overcoming are the basic message in Christ’s death and resurrection. Before his death, Jesus was asked a question in Matthew 22:36-39,”Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself.”
     All of us will die one day. What will really matter to God and others, is how we loved. Do you love God with all your heart? Do you love others well or do you need to keep practicing? Do you daily tell God you love him and tell others you love them with your actions and words? Pride is often what keeps us from telling others and God we love them.
      I challenge you to open your heart to more of God’s love for you and daily tell God you love Him. He wants to hear those words from you. Join me in daily telling those around you that you love them. They need to hear it. We all do. And never give up on loving others because God never gave up on you.


    

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Giving up judgement for Easter

Are you quick to judge or extend compassion?
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie
copyright
March 2017



How do you see others?  Do you see their faults instead of the good about them? Are you quick to see someone and make a judgement about them and their situation instead asking God how he sees them? If so, you might need to take another look perhaps consider some new spiritual glasses and seeing with the eyes of God. 

 I Samuel is about a woman named Hannah, her husband Elkanah, Eli the priest, and Pininnah-Elkanah’s other wife. To set the stage if you have not heard the story, Pininnah had many sons and Hannah had none.  Yearly they made a trip to worship and make a sacrifice. I Samuel 1:5 says, “But to Hannah, Elkanah gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.” ( NIV) What stood out to me is that Hannah

was dearly loved and her husband had great compassion for her. He did not love her for what she could give to him, he simply loved her. This is a good thing for any husband to consider. I am grateful for my husband that does a good job of loving me and my children.

Notice from the above scripture that GOD closed Hannah’s womb. God in his great wisdom had not allowed Hannah to conceive. For some reason, this was God’s design for Hannah for this season of her life.  I recently felt God say to me personally when I was questioning Him about something in my life, “Kathleen, when I design something, it is beautiful because I designed it.” Case closed, He is God and I am not. My opinion needed to change, not his.

I Samuel 1:6 says, “And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.”(NIV) Pininnah was giving Hannah more grief than she already had. Hannah was already struggling with her identity as a woman, the grief of infertility and then the other woman rubs it in her face. Perhaps you have someone in your life like that.   I know I have struggled in my own grief at times and had people unknowingly, (at least I choose to believe they were not intentional) add more pain to my plate.  Pininnah was what I call Hannah’s grace grower. Hannah had a choice in how to react to her rival. Hannah’s name actually means “gracious.” I believe Hannah did not react in her flesh but allowed her grace grower to make her more gracious. Hannah used her problem to develop her character.
We can all learn from this example.


When I am gone from this earth, I want to be known as a woman that loved others well. I have a personal value statement that is, “I am what I love, not what loves me.” It is a decision that I have made that defines me. I have grace growers, also known as irritating people, in my life and sometimes I have preach to myself and say,“ Kathleen, you gotta love um.” It is my way of reminding myself that any other behavior is not acceptable for me. I have also been known to ask God “just give me five minutes in the flesh and I could handle this.” He never gives me permission, which is a good thing as I am sure I would regret it.
Spring Break with Ellis
I Samuel 1:10 says, “In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (NIV) Hannah went to the temple to pour out her grief to the Lord. She made a wise choice to go to church and worship in her grief, however, her grief was misinterpreted. The religious leader didn’t see what God saw. Eli made a quick judgement, thought Hannah was not in her right mind and thought she was drunk. At a time when she needed comfort and encouragement, he totally misunderstood the anguish of her soul. In Eli’s defense, how could he understand the pain of a woman’s barrenness? There are people that come to church, searching for help to get through another day.  This is a good reminder to all of us to ask God, “How do you see this person and how can I encourage them?” Everyone needs understanding and encouragement, not judgement.

Hannah responds to Eli’s accusation with, “Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of the great anguish and grief.” Not only was she heart sick that she could not have a baby but she was also being tormented by her rival and judged at church! Eli had no idea what was really going on in her life and misunderstood her. His judgement made her feel worthless when she was already struggling with her identity as a woman. This had to feel like insult to injury as Eli was someone in the church she trusted. 

As Christians, we must be very careful to not judge others, especially when we have not been in their shoes or experienced what they are going through. In Luke 6:37, Jesus tells us, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” If you love Jesus, seek to understand and love those He puts in your path. Too often, assumptions are made,  judgement passed or correction quickly given when when what people really need is understanding and love. We are called to love.

I believe God is calling all of us to a higher standard of stepping back in our spirit and asking God how he sees someone instead of making a quick assumption with our natural eye and out of our limited experience. What Hannah really needed was encouragement, compassion and understanding. I know that sometimes in my hurried life, I have been guilty of making a judgement from a snapshot of someone and giving a quick statement when I should have asked God what I could say to encourage and comfort someone. Jesus was moved with compassion and understanding. When we see someone with the eyes of God, we see them with affection, we see the best in them, and see them through the eyes of love.

Collins-my grand girl!
Our community is a retirement community and we have many widows and widowers. It is imperative that we comfort and encourage  those that have lost someone they love as as they attempt to make a new life and redefine themselves as single individuals. I was widowed for three years and I have had people comfort me and encourage me as I picked up the pieces of my life. I am forever grateful for those friends.  Like Hannah, I have also felt at times, my grief was misunderstood by those that have not experienced the loss of a mate or the depth of my personal anguish. The misunderstanding has added more pain for me to dig through at a time when I really didn’t need anymore pain. 

The story of Hannah has a beautiful ending. The Lord remembered Hannah and she conceived and gave birth to a mighty man of God named Samuel. Hannah’s job in all this was to keep a right heart and look to God. This is good advise for all of us.

We must first see ourselves as God sees us before we can see others as God sees them. When we see as He sees we give people the power to become better people. We see the treasure in them instead of what is wrong in them. Imagine how different our community would be if we saw and treated people like God. The Hill Country would be amazing!

As Easter approaches, how about giving up judgement of others? Will you repent today of making a quick snapshot judgement of others and ask God to reveal truth to you? Will you join me in looking for those you can comfort and encourage instead of misunderstanding them and judging them? I can’t wait to see what our community will become. It will be amazing!




Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com