HANG ON

Romans 8:18

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

 

It was a normal Wednesday. I was at work, and my wife Cait was at a routine check-up. She was 32 weeks pregnant with our third baby boy, Gunner-Jax.

My phone rang. It was Cait.

I was excited, as always, to hear how much Gunner had grown since the last check-up. When I answered, Cait’s voice wasn’t filled with the same joy as she always called with; instead, she was sobbing and said, “They can’t find a heartbeat.”

Our son, who we saw in an ultra-sound 4 days prior, had passed away inside of Cait’s womb.

My world was shattered.

I was expecting to meet my son in 7 weeks.

I was going to hold him. I was going to kiss his little face. I was going to cry tears of joy and thank God for another little miracle to take his place in our family.

There was no preparing for the pain that we experienced.

God actually promises us trial and tribulation in this world because the world we live in is broken by way of sin.

The above verse is a reminder that we mustn’t stay stuck in the pain, but to focus our eyes on the joy that lies ahead.

Yes, our heavenly father tells us to expect suffering, but he also tells us that we will experience no pain, no tears and no more suffering after Jesus returns.

When grief or pain strikes our lives we can easily forget that the story has already ended.

Jesus won and glory is already owned by God.

Sometimes, the shard from a broken heart causes so much pain that you can forget the love of God and that His plan, despite our grief in this world, is all working for a better cause for what will make sense to us in the future.

You may be facing a situation that changed your life in a moment.

Usually, we aren’t able to foresee these moments before they happen. Not knowing when the moment is going to come makes it that much more difficult to bear.

You may be facing financial issues, a divorce, substance abuse, lust, an illness or maybe you can’t find a job.

Today, it may be difficult because in a moment the UNEXPECTED happened, but rest assured that tomorrow you can EXPECT God to use His love in ways we cannot foresee.

So like the verse says, hang on.

Don’t get stuck in the pain or grief.

Instead, fixate your eyes on the love of God and move forward with Him.

Eternal joy is just ahead.

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RETURN TO PURPOSE

Have you ever experienced that moment in your life where you look back and remember walking in purpose?

I’m not talking about the purpose of success, money or fame, but the purpose in which God called you to walk.

The purpose of your calling.

The purpose of your gifting.

YOUR PURPOSE!

I caught myself wondering the other day, “when did I stop walking in my purpose?”, and I found myself confused. I used to feel so confident that my writing was a gifting, a call and a purpose that God had given me to impact His kingdom.

I remembered wanting to help people see the love of Jesus through my pain. I wanted people to know He was real through the story He wrote for my life.

A lot has occurred in my life since I stopped writing; marriage has been difficult, I changed careers, we lost a baby, fatherhood has had its challenges and I’ve felt lost.

Recently, God has reminded me of a purpose He once put in my heart. A purpose for which can change the lives of people around me.

I want my writing to reflect the type of love, compassion and rescue that can only be found in Jesus.

In short, I’m returning to my purpose and I couldn’t be any more excited to see what God does through it.

I hope you’ll come along on the journey as I share who Jesus is, and what He’s doing in my life.

Church Hurt

We’ve all heard the term “church hurt”, and if you haven’t then I’ll give you a brief explanation.

It’s when someone feels as though they’ve been hurt by one person, or even purposely made to feel as though they aren’t wanted.

Some even go as far as saying they’ve felt singled out and that everyone is against them.

The truth is that more often than not this hurt is caused from one person to another.

But, church is a body and not a single person.

Could this be the reason it feels like such a massive blow when you get into an altercation with someone from your church?

I mean, families fight, and the church is a family, right?

Could you imagine getting into a fight with your blood family; mom, dad, brother or sister and saying, “I can’t take this anymore, instead of working this problem out I’m going family hopping and getting myself a new mom or brother.”

This is what happens in the church today, and it is occurring way too often.

We find a church that accommodates our wants. We fall in love with this church; it’s people, it’s beliefs, the coffee, the atmosphere, the fellowship and we start to build solid relationships with some amazing people. We allow them access to our personal battles and give them the ability to speak into our lives.

But, somewhere along this beautiful new path we seem to forget this verse….

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Why do we always have this view that people, once we let them in, won’t let us down?

Why do we continuously believe that every new person we allow to know our deepest secrets will be different than the last friend we took down our own walls for?

Do you see the common denominator?

PEOPLE.

We all fall short, we are all sinners and I’m willing to bet that you have a few things in your closet you’re not too proud of when it comes to relationships with people.

I know I do.

I wanted to share with you whats helped me not run away from the church or the adundant life God has for me when one person hurts me.

  • Don’t allow one person to be the spokesman for the entire church. 

The church is a body not a person. If you leave the church because of a single person or even a few, you’ll be church hopping for the rest of your life. This will cause you to miss out on community, fellowship and building deep relationships with people that you NEED for the times you’re going through. Chances are you had an issue with one person, and that led to church hurt, because of one persons response or lack there of, you’re now running from the entire church not allowing the issue to be resolved. Congrats, you’ve now built a resentment.

Also remember, if you have to single someone out then single out Jesus…

not for revenge, but REFUGE.

From Ashes to Glory

There are 63 days left until Cait and I join our hearts and become one. We will stand together as we exchange vows, say I do and make a covenant with God.

This is my second marriage. I was married once before and I did it for all of the wrong reasons. Firstly, I did not have a relationship with Jesus, nor did I understand why God created marriage or it’s purpose in general.

Now, with keeping the above in mind, I proposed… she said yes… we got hitched. A Pastor in my church taught me that marriage will expose the biggest sins in your life, not make them better. Boy, I wish I knew that before hand!

I was addicted to pornography, lustful and selfish. Three deadly combinations bound for wrecking something beautiful. A year into the marriage I was making love to my MacBook more than I was to my wife and didn’t even think it was a problem. I literally believed it was normal behavior.

This shows how dark the enemy is. He gets us to believe that this immense opportunity in your life is normal. You see no problem at all because he whispers into your ear consistently telling you it’s ok.

Unfortunately, my pornography addiction led to some pretty horrible choices that not only hurt my first wife, but caused a painful divorce, and not to mention a separated household for our newly born son. It took years for my ex wife to forgive me and I lost people closest to me because of my decisions.

My sin lead me to divorce which in turn lead me to Jesus. I started going to church, reading the bible and inviting Christ along into my day every morning. I wanted to mirror His image and allow Him to change my heart and man did I get what I asked for. He slowly stripped away the concreted, sinful layers that took years to build up. I did not realize how numb I was.

I learned that marriage, and the beauty in it’s entirety was more about serving God together than anything else. For the past few years I have focused on molding myself into a Godly man for a woman who was doing the same with her life. I came to the realization that there were so many options of great, Christ-Following women in this world to partner my life with. It was about God! Not me, her or us.

Cait stepped into my life back in May of this year, 2014. She was a follower of Jesus and a kindergarten teacher. She loves God and will be great with my son (who’s now 2) what a resume! I prayed everyday for her, for us and for God to show us what path He wanted us to take.

We became friends, and we got to know one another’s hearts while serving the community of our church together. We shared so many common interests that it was hard to deny the mutual attraction. We spoke openly about our feelings and were brutally honest about our pasts. I told her the truth about my marriage and she didn’t judge me. She accepted me for me just like Jesus did.

I decided to love her. Did you catch that? Let me say it again, I decided to love her. You see, it’s a choice to love another person. It’s not something you “fall into”. Let’s face it, Nicholas Sparks is nice and cozy in the loving world of fiction, but it’s not truth in Christ. One day, the loving romantic feeling will disappear or your spouse will disappoint you. Then what? You leave because they let you down. This happens all to much these days.

When we make a choice to love another soul unconditionally, it means just that. Under “no condition” will I leave or forsake you. Just like God said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave nor forsake you”. How many of us practice this verse in our marriage?

Back to the story. Cait told me she decided to love me the day she saw me with my son for the first time. She said that the way I interacted with him as a father was what made her decide. That touched my soul.

Cait and I are to be married on 12-13-14, and I couldn’t be more excited to start this journey with her. We will serve God, hold one another accountable and never look back. We want to make Jesus famous together, and we have big plans to do so.

I hope this encouraged someone out there for many reasons. Just because we have failed, disappointed, let down, hurt and deceived people does not mean it’s too late for Christ to change your heart. I was in the trenches, a horrible sinner and by all means the antonym of Godly! But, in the middle of the darkness that I caused myself, Jesus reached into my heart and consumed my life. He loved me at my lowest and praises me at my highest all while keeping me humble.

I’m far from perfect, and Cait knows that but she accepts it. She will never love me as much as she loves Jesus, and that is beautiful.

I’d love to hear from some of you if this has encouraged or inspired you:

Stay connected with me: Facebook.com/andrewdiamond0
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Blessed in the Moment

I just tied up the laces on my boots, tucked in my freshly pressed shirt and fastened my bow tie. Cait, my fiancé, was almost finished getting ready as we were an hour away from getting our engagement pictures taken!

Cait comes out of the bathroom asking me to zip up the back of her dress. Before I even touch the zipper I take notice to the broken clasp of the zipper. She must have seen the look on my face, and without hesitation asks, “it’s broken isn’t it?” As I took a deep breath, I remembered what our pastor at Church by the Glades, Pastor David Hughes, taught us about God testing us before He blesses us. Now, I personally have always struggled with anger and patience. I am a perfectionist and if things don’t go according to plan, well let’s just say it’s an easy excuse for me to overreact.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, about to be my old self and flip out, I hear Pastor Dave say, “Gods got this, trust in Him.” So, I took a deep breath, looked at my watch, asked God to reach His hand down and lift us up in that moment. I told Cait not to worry, and that we still had an hour until we had to be at the venue for the pictures. I suggested we leave now, 25 minutes early, and head to the mall to buy the same dress for her. She agreed!

We loaded up my car, and began toward the mall. Trusting in The Lord to carry us through this anxious time I hear a beeping noise. I look down, and my tire pressure light is on. I hit my breaks, put the car in park and exit my vehicle. I walk around the car and my front right tire is almost flat! In my mind I am screaming at the top of my lungs, yelling loud within my own mind and not wanting to tell Cait. She looked so beautiful, her make-up was perfect and disappointing her was the last thing I wanted to do.

Again, I prayed and asked God to carry us through. I told Him I trusted what was happening and that following a biblical standard of patience and understanding was the choice I was so presently and consciously going to make in that moment!

I advised Cait that it was ok, and that we were going to make the best of it. Back to the house, unload my car, load up her SUV and head to the mall! I told her I loved her and that she looked beautiful. We made it to the mall, found the exact same dress and bought a new one. We made it to the photo shoot with 10 minutes to spare even though it was 15 miles away in the city.

Needless to say, the photo session was simply epic. Cait’s smile was filled with Gods grace, and she was glowing with the love of The Lord. We were photographed for an hour, but it seemed like 5 minutes because we were having a blast just being natural and loving one another.

When we were driving home, I was quietly praying and asking God to help me out. You see, I was having a “struggle week”, and by that, which I’m sure some of you can relate, I paid a bunch of bills and was low on extra spending money. I asked for the tire to be able to be patched instead of having to buy a new tire which usually means you have to buy 2!

We arrived at Tire Kingdom, and we went in. The customer service employee was so nice from the beginning. We explained why we were there, and naturally told her what happened on the way to our engagement photo shoot. She said we looked so happy and congratulated us on the engagement. What happened next was all God.

The customer service woman told me that the repair was going to be free of charge today. I was shocked! Wait a minute, an auto-body shop is going to repair something on my car for free? I could not believe it. I was in complete awe, and then it dawned on me. God, blessed us in that moment for reacting to His tests in the first half of the day. You see, Cait and I are about to join our hearts together in marriage. We are going to face difficulties every day in every season. He wanted to see how prepared we were to face some of those obstacles together, and even though it was a $40 tire repair, He blessed us in that moment.

I leave you with this; if you are struggling to see the beauty in God or having difficulty trusting in His word then most likely you’re not following Jesus to the best of your ability. That was my problem, and as soon as I halted and followed His standard the way He would have wanted, we were blessed immediately in return.

I know a lot of you are going to say, “blessed? It was a $40 tire repair!!!” But, the blessing was not getting out of the financial responsibility of this, but in directly feeling God’s personal love for Cait and I. He lifted us up in that moment and we felt it. His love was present, and we were grateful.

Attached is one of the pictures from our engagement photos. Cait is going to be a beautiful bride, and I thank The Lord everyday for creating her and all of her beautiful faults. IMG_0040.JPG