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My Faith & Transformation Journey

Make Me an Example

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5 New Living Translation)

Over the past few days I have been disheartened by the way I have seen some Christians treating other Christians. I know that none of us are perfect, however, when we make it known to others that we are Christians,we must recognize that we are examples to everyone around us of what that means. I believe Jesus died for my sins and I believe I am forgiven. I also believe that to be forgiven means to be transformed. It means I live differently. It means I love differently. It means I give differently. If I am to be an example of Christ’s love in my life then I must treat everyone in my life with the same forgiveness, love, and compassion that Jesus has shown me.

If my life as a Christian isn’t transformed and lived differently because of Jesus’ love for me, than why bother to believe in him and follow him?

My daily reading from the Life Application Study Bible says “there is more to Christian living than loving other Christians. We must be responsible in all areas of our life.” It is a reminder that we do need to treat our fellow followers with love, as well as all those who cross our paths. If we can’t start in our own families and with the people closest to us, how can we share Jesus with those who don’t yet know him? How can we model grace and mercy for others if we aren’t willing to show these principles to the ones sitting in church with us? How do we build Christian leaders in secular jobs if the examples we have in Christian organizations are no better than those outside?

I am far from perfect and I do look to Christians around me to see how they live out their lives. I want to see how they are motivated to live transformed lives and what they do in uncomfortable or tough situations. I look to our leaders in the Christian community to be examples of love, mercy, and respect for others in lower stations of life or in need of healing and forgiveness. I find hope for change in the Bible I read and I pray that I will be a better leader; but I need good examples. I am thankful that while I have seen some pretty bad examples lately, I have seen some pretty great ones too.

I am thankful for dear friends who know I am a work in progress and who forgive me when I screw up or disappoint them when I make a bad choice. I am thankful when they call me on my behavior and inspire me to do better. I am thankful that there are leaders in my community that I can learn from as I grow in my leadership role. I am thankful for preachers in my church who share the truth of the Gospel and make me squirm a little in my seat. They motivate me to grow. I am thankful that Jesus still loves me and still forgives me when I mess up and then gently guides me back on the right path. I am thankful for grace and mercy and hope I pass that on.

My prayer is that in my comings and goings today I be an example of the love and forgiveness of Jesus and that those I come in contact with see I am transformed because of him. May you too be transformed by his forgiveness and may you too be an example.

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

In Need of Inspiration

My search for something meaningful or purposeful about my life led me down many paths, and not all of them were roads I should have traveled. I tried devoting myself to work and taking jobs that I thought would make me feel important or relevant. I tried relationships that I thought would meet all my needs but they never filled all the gaps. I tried a different sort of ‘religion’ in Scientology, and that only confused my life more. I tried drinking and drugging in my younger days to fit in and that was all pretend living too. I tried just being “spiritual” but failed to find any real direction and ended up listening to my own messed up self for guidance. It took me several tries over the years to come to a new point in my life:

“God blesses those who realize their need for him” (Matthew 5: 3—The Beatitudes, NLT)

I was looking in all the wrong places! The NIV version says “Blessed are the poor in spirit” while the Message says, “You’re blessed when you feel you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” I was like a beggar trying every new spiritual movement out there in the hopes of feeling fulfilled in my life. I knew Jesus. I grew up with Jesus. I just didn’t think he was enough for me and I hungered for something more to make me feel relevant in this universe.

I didn’t need to be one with the universe—the same universe that God created. I needed to be one with the creator. I didn’t need to empty my head; I needed to breathe in the Holy Spirit and divine inspiration. I didn’t need to draw energy from another human; I needed to draw inspiration from God’s word to us and through a quiet time of prayer with him. I didn’t need a new religion, I needed to grow in my own faith—the one passed down through generations of believers. My dedication to hearing God’s word spoken for me led me to a spiritual awakening like no other.

I need God in my life. I need Jesus in my life. I need prayer and meditation in my life. I came to the end of my rope and God was waiting for me. Waiting to pick me up, dust me off, forgive me, and set me on a new course. For me, there is one God in whom I trust. Today I only look for ways to grow in that relationship and if work, relationships, spiritual groups, or things I put in my body don’t lead me in that direction, then I don’t need them.

Do you need something more in your life—something other than your own voice in your head? Are you looking for a new spiritual life? Do you want to experience a transformation that brings you peace and joy? Are you ready to step into the light and feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit? I encourage you to reach out to someone today that can guide you in that direction. Find a life coach, counselor or religious leader and tell them you are ready to start exploring this kind of spiritual life. I promise you will never be the same.

Blessings,
Maggie

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Keeping the Faith

It can be hard to keep the faith and journey forward when life throws you a curve ball. I learned that I will soon be out of a job and am struggling to see God’s hand here. I know it is there, but when the sting is fresh, it is hard to believe life’s upsets are part of his plan. “Remain steadfast,” I tell myself when everything seems be unraveling before my eyes. “Persevere,” I see in my own writings. But: “how?” and “why?” and “what now?” cloud my thinking right now.

There is a verse in Proverbs 16:9 that says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” This goes with the old Yiddish saying: “Man plans and God laughs.” I was reminded by someone that God saw this coming even though I did not. It would be easy for me to become frantic about my finances and my grandiose plans for the coming months, but the truth is—those were my plans. There was a part of me that realized that I was riding on the edge again with some grand schemes I thought I could circumvent the process just a little to get what I want.

I…me…want…

You see, this is what happens when you step on the God road forward. The road may have bumps in it. You may steer clear to avoid them only to land in the ditch. Once back on the path, the road may smooth out for a while, until the next pothole throws you out of alignment. Correction follows correction. Gripping hard to the steering wheel of self will is only likely to send you flying in the wrong direction. Loosening the grip and gradually steering down the road of change is more likely to get you where you need to be. Hold firm instead to God’s promises and live to see the solutions unfold.

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33

These bumps today lead me back to where I can trust that God will provide for all my needs. Jesus tells us not to “worry about everyday life” and to be content that we have enough to cover our basic needs. There is nothing to be gained from worrying about tomorrow. If I allow those thoughts to dominate my thinking, I will most likely derail my progress by thinking that all has been lost. I would much rather stay hopeful and believe that all these pieces fit together for my good, as he would have it.

I am learning that I have to adjust my plans to better align with God’s plans. I have learned not to doubt that there is purpose in these bumps. If I can remain steadfast, I can also get through to the other side of pain and discomfort much faster. God has hit me with the two-by-four again and has closed the door. I prayed and he answered. I dug my heels in when he said: “go” and now I am gone! It will all be good. I will grow. I will be stronger. And I will be right where God wants me to be. Where I have needed to be all along.

How do you deal with life’s curve balls? How do you keep moving forward when your plans have been upset? I would love you hear what scriptures help you keep on the path when life knocked you off.

Categories
Poetry

What Day this Day?

Sunrise is outside my window.
People are rushing in the cold air,
Into their cars or off to the bus.
I watch from my warm perch.

The day is firmly upon us.
Work and school are calling us to them,
Forcing us into this new day now.
And still I sit: watching.

Streams of “must do” thoughts fill my head.
Coffee in one hand, pen in the other,
I contemplate actions for today.
Knowing I can’t just watch.

I turn now from my window perch.
I’m just like the leaves flowing downstream,
following a path set before me.
From watcher to doer.

What path this morning of new days?
What achievements for this day of days?
What simple steps do I take forward?
The answers lie outside.

Into the world we throw ourselves.
We need not go it alone or blind.
Draw from the stream of his words and life.
Set the day on his path.

This day before the sunset comes.
I pray I saw more clearly God’s path,
for with his love and grace I moved on.
This day of days is his.

© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Slowly Transformed

Walking in the zoo the other day, I saw this tree that was beginning to turn into autumn colors. Way at the top, just a hint of red was showing through. It was surrounded by other tress that were already fully converted to fall and full of red and bright orange leaves. And there were trees around it that remained a stubborn green. And I thought; “isn’t that like us—some just starting to transform, some well on our way, and some who are holding back?”

My transformation journey took me to a few key passages in the Bible which I cling to as my inspiration to change. One is Psalm 25 and the other influential passage on my life is Romans 12:2. I heard it at a youth conference and was so moved that it became my mantra and one I often share with others to encourage them. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (NLT)

Every time I read this passage I am reminded that God wants me to be and do more with my life than what I was and am doing. Every day he wants me to move forward and a little closer to his image. I learned here that God could change me in ways I could never change myself. He could break the bonds to hurtful times in my life and set me on a new path unlike any I was living. He could fulfil my “if only” dreams of a better life. But it had to begin by changing the way I think, or maybe enriching the way I think.

Yesterday I began a list of things I wish I did differently. I wish I gossiped less and complained about people less. I wish I was fully doing what I believe God has called me to do. I wish I could forgive quicker and show mercy faster. I wish I was doing a better job with managing my finances. I wish I gave more time and money to others. I wish I could lose these 50 extra pounds of unhealthy living. I wish I was fully living out God’s purpose for my life.

And then I looked at the things I am good at and the things I have accomplished. I feel loved when I never trusted love. I am better at seeing people as God sees them and not judging them. I am not hiding relationships that I should not be a part of. I have time I never had to change the things above and to answer God’s call. I am being honest about my financial situation and have a plan forward. I am eating healthier and losing a little weight at a time. I have a strong rich spiritual life and an unshakeable faith. I know what God wants from me and I have put one foot forward to get where I’m going. I am happy. I am content. I have real joy.

These things came slowly. Just like the slowly changing tree, I am making progress on my wish list. And some of the things I started to change a few years ago are now full blown and bright spots in my life. And yes, I am still probably digging my heels in on some things—but God will get me on them when he is ready for me to get on them.

Transformation—a process forward. What inspires you to change? What motivates you to take the first step? Where are you heading and how are you getting there? I would love to hear your story and weave it into my God-story. Please share your ideas below.

Blessings,

Maggie M.
© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

No Regrets: No Do-overs, No Repeats

I came to the place of a transformed person the hard way. I had a strong Christian heritage but it took a few walks on the wild side to solidify those beliefs for myself. As I write and share the story of my transformation journey, I do it so that others may learn from it. So that others may avoid some of the errors of my ways. So that others who have jumped off the path can get back on. So that those who have never thought they were on the path will see that God does indeed have a path set ahead for you and he is waiting for you to put one foot on and begin the healing.

When I reflect on my life it is easy to get hung up on the regrets. If only my parents had protected me more. If only I hadn’t acted out as a result of my family and sexual abuse. If only I had been less naïve in the financial decisions I made. If only I had _____: fill in the blank. So many times I have asked God to turn the clock back, just this one time so I would not do what I did. He never does. I never get the do-over I would like to have. Truth is, I probably would do something else equally stupid!

I actually have no regrets though. Each of the things that happened to me and that I did to me is part of the fabric of my salvation story. From the moment I personally accepted Jesus and asked the Holy Spirit to become my guide, God has lifted the veil on my behaviors and healed me. Layer by layer; step by step, I have been able to let go of the past and move forward.

It is a moving forward process, this forgiveness thing. God doesn’t want us to remain trapped by our behavior and bad choices. He wants us to learn from them, to grown from them, and to never repeat them. It has been harder to accept God’s forgiveness for some of those things and it has been harder to change some behavior than others. But I had a willingness to change. I was inspired by the lives of others around me. I was motivated to become a different person and slowly it is happening. Happening. I am still growing and changing and God is still revealing and I am learning.

This Sunday morning, leave your regrets at the altar. Pray a prayer of forgiveness. Let go of what you can’t change and ask what you can change today. Commit to not repeating those things which you consider sins or poor behavior. Move forward today. Accept a brighter future.

Have you had to let go of something and have you seen the change in your life? I would love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below that others may grow from your experience.

Blessings,
Maggie

© maggiemarcum.com

“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who lives at the end of the age.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 New Living Translation