RSS Feed

Tag Archives: heartache

Becoming Vulnerable Again

Ten years ago I was at a good place in my life.  At this time, I felt like I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  I was in the prime of my teaching career, mentoring students on and off the golf course as a coach and serving on the board of my church as an elder.  Then, a series of trials left deep wounds to my soul.  When the dust settled, I lost my job, several friendships and the desire to become vulnerable.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

Whenever I endure hardship, it becomes difficult for me to allow strangers back into my life.  Whether this is a defense mechanism, fear of being disappointed again or signs of depression, I tend to withdraw.  Part of me is jaded, hesitant to invest time and energy without knowing what the future holds.  Yet after years of being in some sort of spiritual fog, a moving worship experience a few Sunday’s ago has led me to realize it’s time to open up.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

During one of these songs, I had a vision of clay being molded and fashioned by a potter.  This imagery was a subtle reminder of God’s nature as a heavenly Potter.  All of my heartache over the last decade is symbolic of the imperfections within clay.  If I can only trust God while I go through the furnace called life, I will become whole.  May the message that I am learning inspire others to become vulnerable to others again.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

What About Me Moments in Life

I was channel surfing today when I stumbled across a documentary on Jimmy the Greek.  ESPN’s 30 for 30 entitled The Legend of Jimmy the Greek reveals events which lead this man to become an analyst on the NFL Today on CBS.  Known for his advanced knowledge on setting the betting line for sporting events, Jimmy had a tough life.  His mother and aunt were both killed by a disgruntled uncle who then took his own life when Jimmy was ten.  Years later, three of Jimmy’s children all died of the same disease.  These events caused Jimmy to become mad at God for several years, a what about me moment in life.

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me, ” Job 30:20.

Thousands of years earlier another man had his own series of disappointments.  Job endured a few disasters resulting in the loss of his animals, possessions and children.  Like Jimmy the Greek, Job begins to doubt God’s existence, unable to comprehend why his prayers weren’t answered.  Job is confused as his understanding of God’s nature does what match what is actually happening.  Thus, Job cries out for help, “what about me God?”

Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness, Job 30:26.

These two men aren’t the only ones who have suffered heartache in life.  Many people can relate to the passage above as you hope for good only to find disappointment.  If you ever have your own what about me moment, don’t blame God for your problems.  Rather, seek counsel to ascertain what the Lord is trying to teach you through these trials.  Time has a way of sorting things out.  For now, may the Holy Spirit direct and guide you until answers for the questions you still have arrive.

by Jay Mankus

 

Measuring Your Treasures

There are various youthanisms which exist about measuring riches.  Some claim he who dies with the most toys wins.  Meanwhile, the eternalist states you can’t take it with you.  Others believe beauty is the eye of the beholder.  These distinctions force individuals to begin to measure their own personal treasures in life.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, Matthew 6:20.

During his sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus makes a connection between treasure and the human heart.  Priorities dictate how you ultimately invest your time while on earth.  Although some treasures appear to be worth the journey, often your soul experiences fools gold, disappointed in the end.  To avoid future heartache, Jesus encourages his followers to seek treasures that are eternal.

But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:24

Within any treasure quest, greed often comes into play.  This desire is portrayed as darkness that can influence your heart.  Anyone who allows darkness to linger is in danger of inviting a spiritual poison into your heart.  Sure, everyone wants to have cake and eat it too.  Yet, at some point you have to determine what you are chasing after.  Since you can’t serve two masters, measure your treasures carefully.

by Jay Mankus

The Disappointments in Life

If birds of a feather flock together, then misery does love company.  Playing the victim card allows individuals to dwell upon their disappointments in life.  Like the shark encounters scene in Jaws, people often engage in stories to one up the other.  The ultimate goal is to seek pity from others, to buy your sob story.

And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless, Job 22:9.

When you read the account of Job’s trials within the first two chapters of his book, its hard to find someone who has endured such heartache.  After three friends come to support Job, each begin to wonder why would God allow all these horrible things happen to such a great guy.  The more each reflected upon Job’s disappointments in life, their reasoning changes.   Supportive friends, soon became critics, urging Job to confess a hidden sin at the core of his hardships.  Surely, this must be the reason for disappointment.

That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, Job 22:10.

The one mistake Job does make is blaming God for all his troubles.  I guess Job fell into the trap most do, believing life is suppose to be full of blessings once you commit your life to God.  Unfortunately, the contrary is true as difficult times serve as a refining process.  Tests create an environment to promote growth, maturity and perseverance.  Therefore, the next time disappointment comes your way, consider it a pure joy, James 1:2-4.  Developing this mindset will prevent you from blaming God as well as make you a complete person.

by Jay Mankus

Confidence in God’s Providence

In order to understand providence, you first must grasp sovereignty.  Theologians refer to this as God’s control over his creation, the earth.  This is accomplished through God’s governance over all of reality.  When you put together all the pieces, (original sin, the need for a second Adam, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) God’s providence can be seen.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross, Colossians 2:13-14.

If you examine the life of Joseph in the Old Testament, the arrangement of trials he endures doesn’t make much sense initially.  Sure, you can say Joseph had it coming when his brothers through him in a pit due his boisterous claims.  Yet, being sold into slavery, falsely imprisoned and forgotten by one of Pharaoh’s servants doesn’t seem fair.  However, God revealed the purpose for his heartache in the passage below.  What others meant for evil, God used for good, a sign of confidence in God’s providence.

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you, Genesis 45:5.

Like any book or movie, certain events don’t make any sense until you see the big picture revealed near the end of each story.  Unfortunately, in real life many give up on their dreams too early, before everything has played out.  With my recent eye surgery and ongoing issues that arise, a potential career as a screen writer may not be an option.  Nonetheless, as I read about former believers who have endured far worse predicaments, I am still confident in God’s providence for the rest of my life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Following the Voice of Temptation

At some point in the next 24 hours, it will happened to you.  No one is immune to this mystery guest.  While the exact circumstance, situation and time is unknown, the voice of temptation shows up unannounced.  Sometimes you might feel its presence with an impulse, grab your attention with a lustful sight or lure you away with an enticing whisper.  Either way if you’re not ready for her it might not be long before you start following the voice of temptation.

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword, Proverbs 5:3-4.

King Solomon refers to this voice as the adulterous woman, promising ecstasy but delivering heartache.  Unfortunately, the rush of adrenaline tends to take individuals from maybe to when can I start to taste the temporary pleasures of life.  Those without a backbone, curious or hanging out by the fence line are usually the first to engage these voices.  Perhaps, Solomon is comparing temptation to some of the beautiful woman he couldn’t resist marrying or engaging in sexual fantasies.  Before he could stop, 1000 woman had him wrapped around their fingers.

Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it, Proverbs 5:5-6.

When morning arrives, emptiness, guilt and shame often follow those who listen to the voice of temptation.  Unless you can snap out of this sinful state, destruction await all those who continue to visit this mistress.  Those that hit rock bottom find themselves facing addiction, bad habits and a heart craving for a quick fix, a temporary high before this vicious cycle repeats itself.  If this blog finds you somewhere in this entangled web of deception, cry out to the Lord, confess any wrong doings, purge your life from any reminders of this voice and enter into accountability relationships so that you can come clean once and for all.  Hold on by committing yourself to Bible memorization to break free from these chains of sin.

by Jay Mankus

 

Until You Repent

Taking advice from a stranger usually doesn’t go over well.  Some will be insulted, others perturbed and most will shut down, unwilling to go any further with the current conversation.  However, when God is the stranger, perhaps you should open your heart and mind to the message provided.

Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings, Proverbs 1:23.

In a letter addressed to his sons, Solomon stresses the importance of listening like a voice of reason.  Trying to urge his children to avoid the same mistakes he made, Solomon reinforces the principle of repentance.  If you drive long enough, sooner or later you will miss your turn.  Thus, if you want to reach your desired destination, making a U-turn is a must.

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm, Proverbs 1:33.

The Lord promises the blessing of a safe life to those who heed this call.  Yet, for those too stubborn to stop, drop and pray, calamity is awaiting, with disaster, trouble and distress on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  While the choice is obvious, too many people end up on the wrong side of the fence.  If you’re currently wondering, what the hell is going on, its likely heartache will continue until you repent.

by Jay Mankus