Success through Failure

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“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Wow! Those are encouraging words for me today. And perhaps for you, as well. Seems like, at this point in my life, I fail far more than I succeed. But the Bible says that when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) Through our failures, God yields His strength to us. And, in these cracked, clay vessels, our imperfections allow God’s light to shine through. The imperfections are still there. Yet they serve the greater purpose of allowing others in this darkened world to see God’s glory radiating through us- failures and all.

Like Michael, let’s keep on trying!

2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)

God’s Voice in the Darkness

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“I want to go back, Lord,” I said. “It’s familiar there.”

“No, my child,” God replied. “You must keep moving forward.”

“But I’m afraid, Lord. Please hold my hand,” I cried.

“I’m here child,” He assured.

“I want to go back, Lord,” I cried out again. “The pain is just too great.”

“My grace is sufficient,” God said. “You have my strength.”

“But I feel so alone,” I said. “Please don’t let go, Lord!”

“I’m here, my child,” His words came with comfort.

“Please take me back to where I was before,” again I pleaded.

“No, my child,” He whispered. “You must walk on.

I am here with you, every step of the way.

And I will never leave you,” He assured.

“Even if it were possible, turning back now would never allow you to

receive all the wonderful things I have planned for you.

Keep walking ahead, child, and listen to my voice,” God said.

“I will see you through this. And I will never leave you. You have my promise.”

I walked on through the darkness, my hand in His…until I could again see the light.

And as I reached the light, it’s rays of warmth seemed to pour over and into me, deep within my spirit.

The darkness could not defeat me for my LORD walked beside me. His light was always there, deep within my heart, for He was and is ever with me.

Now, in my heart, I know the darkness of this world can never defeat me. For, through Jesus, my Savior, God pierced the darkness with the light of His love and conquered it for all eternity!

~ Angela Hall Dobbins

John 8:12b: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Isaiah 41:13: For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Stand in the Bright Spot

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Looking back over the year 2013, I must admit it was a year of seemingly relentless difficulty for me.  Perhaps you can relate?  As soon as one trial had passed, another would quickly follow.  And often there were multiple trials all at once which became an almost insurmountable struggle.  One day, in a moment of weakness, I was praying and literally crying out to the Lord to ease my load, feeling as though the darkness might soon completely overtake me.  I longed for a reprieve from the seemingly endless barrage of attacks from the enemy- a breakthrough!  Then, softly and intently, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Angela, stand in the ‘bright spot’.”

I cried out in desperation, while in the middle of a particularly bad flare, “What bright spot, Lord?”, overwhelmed and struggling at the time to see the tiniest glimmer of light outside His immediate presence.  Surely, in the midst of all the trials- a year-long whirlwind of family chaos and turbulence, the effects of chronic pain and fatigue, months of difficulty getting resettled after a necessary summer move, nearly three months of fighting not to succumb to depression, and not to mention the current ice storm with thirty-two hours of no power, no heat, and no running water at home- I thought surely, there wasn’t a beam large enough for me to stand in.  “You’re all the light I see, Lord,” I said.  “Where would You have me stand?”

And then, like a vision, it came to me.  Though the circumstances that weighed so heavily upon me were like walking through dark shadows that seemed to engulf me, I began to imagine beautiful rays of light as they broke through the clouds of darkness.  In those rays of light- the “bright spot”- there was hope, warmth, even joy, and renewal.  So I asked the Lord, “Father, where is the bright spot in all of this?”  I longed to see it and to feel it’s warmth flood my spirit. Then I felt Him saying to me, “Look around you to those things where I am and you will find it.”

It was a week before our Christmas Musical at church and I so wanted to sing for the Lord and bring glory to His name.  Singing is one of the things that brings me joy and gives me inspiration.  I so enjoy singing with our Praise  Team and worshipping our Lord together.  And for nearly three months, I had longed to once again find the ability to connect with the passion and inspiration I knew God had placed within me for His ministry.  So, in that moment, and for that very time in my life, singing in the Christmas Musical became my “bright spot”. For a little while, I was able to bask in the rays of light from my “bright spot” and felt God’s warmth pour over me as His joy began to renew my spirit.  Making an effort to attend weekly practices and listening to my performance CD at home and in the car, I had been looking forward to singing with my sweet Sisters on the Praise Team and to the program God had inspired our Music Minister to lead.  But my basking wouldn’t last long.  The next morning I awoke with a scratchy throat.  And, by the following morning, it had turned into the worst sore throat I could ever remember having.   This time the Holy Spirit led me in a different way.  But I’m certain it was His direction which prompted me to call and make an appointment with my doctor, something I usually don’t immediately do.  A visit to the doctor is certainly not one of my favorite things!  But this time was different- I knew I needed to get to be seen as soon as possible and suspected it was strep.   Sure enough, the test confirmed I had strep throat!

It seemed my “bright spot” had vanished. But I soon discovered it had only moved.  Often in challenging circumstances, the Lord’s desire is to inspire our faith to grow as we continue to trust Him and follow His leading.  So I prayed for His strength and the ability to trust faithfully and to keep my focus on Him, instead of on my circumstances.  The circumstances surrounding me were still very difficult.  That had not changed.  But just as He always had, by His mercy, grace, and love, the Lord brought me through.  Each day, as I followed my doctor’s instructions, took my medication, and placed everything in God’s hands, I began to improve.  Slowly, I began to practice using my singing voice a little at a time and was soon able to sing again!  More importantly, God helped me realize that His gift of inspiration doesn’t always come from within.  Sometimes His desire is that we rest in Him for a while and be carried by and become part of the inspiration He bestows to others. I’m continuing to learn, when the dark clouds of gloom and uncertainty loom over me, I only need to ask the Lord to help me look for the “bright spot” and to stand in it!

No matter how dark the clouds looming overhead or the shadows surrounding you, there is always a bright spot- a place where God says, “I am”.  It may be uniquely different, depending on your circumstances.  Where is your “bright spot” today?  Is it the love in your children’s faces?  Is it spending time with your grandchildren, lending them your love and guidance?  Is it something God has gifted you to do that brings you joy?  Perhaps it’s having lunch with a friend, or a phone call to a loved one.  Maybe it’s giving of your time and talents to minister to others.  Or it’s spending time studying or teaching God’s Word.  Maybe it’s a walk in the park or a drive through the country, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Look for your “bright spot” today.  Stand in it!  And the Lord will give you warmth, hope, His unspeakable joy…and He will renew your spirit!

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (HCSB)

Standing in the Bright Spot,

Angela 🙂

 

The Principle of Character

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“Character cannot be developed in peace and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision be cleared, ambition insured and success achieved.”

– Helen Keller

There is something of great truth in this quote by Helen Keller.  I’m sure that many are familiar with her story and of the nearly impossible circumstances she faced as a child.  The principle of character is one which young Miss Keller learned first hand, being trapped in a world of unimaginable isolation and suffering as a young girl who was blind, deaf, and unable to speak or effectively communicate her needs.  With the help of her dedicated teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen overcame great odds in learning to emerge from a dark, silent world to become the person God had intended her to be.  In so doing, she made a difference in this world by bringing hope and inspiration to countless others through her life’s testimony.

John 10:10 speaks of the abundant life Jesus came to offer us, in and through His redeeming blood and by the power of His Holy Spirit.  We must only choose to believe. Accepting Him as Lord and Savior is the first step in our pilgrimage. But in order to become truly like Him and grow in character, we must at times be molded, shaped, and tempered in the fires of adversity.

I find so much encouragement in the New Testament, both in the words of our Lord Jesus, as He instructs us directly, and in those of His servants, like the Apostle Paul.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

Paul understood so well what his suffering would achieve and that it was only temporal.  Led by the Holy Spirit, he wrote such words of encouragement like these to the church at Corinth:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:6-18 (KJV)

My friend, remember today, as you may experience periods of trail and suffering in this world, perhaps due to illness, a tragic loss, near devastating circumstance, or even because of the judgments and persecution of others- remember the words of a true servant of Christ and God’s words of comfort to you and me:

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:2-5 (NIV)

May the Lord comfort and uplift you today!  Stand true to what you have believed and be assured that, as you allow your light to shine and do good to others, your labor is not in vain.  Cling to the promises in God’s Word and never give up on the dream He has placed in your heart! Persevere with the hope of Christ’s return and His love in your heart, and you will grow in both spirit and character!

May God bless you today and guide you to becoming all He created you to be!

Love in Christ,

Angela