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ZMI Family Ministries International > Articles by: Amy Horton

Removing the Splinter

“Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” 
Matthew 5: 24, NIV

I didn’t want to remove the splinter. It was glass and had lodged into my foot deeply. After a week of limping, it had to be dealt with but I was not enjoying the prospect of having to cut it out. Many Youtube videos later, having watched the proper procedure, I carefully and slowly cut into the wound according to the instructions I’d researched. Without a bright light to guide me, it would have been impossible to see that little glass splinter shining back at me. The offending object was invisible at first, painful later, and only worsened with time. The first day after I removed the glass shard I was sore, but the next day after some healing I was back to walking again!

     Recently when God called me to make some things right in relationships, I was reminded of the splinter. These offenses such as bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, are invisible at first, but become increasingly painful with time. God values living in right relationships even more than worship!  As He loves His children, He expects me to love them also.  It was obvious that carrying these offenses hindered my walk with God. He makes it clear that obedience is what he wants from us.

     The bright light of the Holy Spirit will shine brightly and show us where our trouble spots are when we are seeking Him, just as a proper light was needed to see the glass splinter. Even though we have no control over the outcome of humble apologies, I was blessed to be forgiven. The even bigger blessing was having my walk with God unhindered again!

In him,

Amy Horton

 

photo credit: https://www.freeimages.com/photographer/davidlat-56060

Taking the bait

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Matthew 10:14 NIV

My Father just returned from the fishing trip of a lifetime! The picture you see is a single days’ catch; it was a very successful trip. He told me how much research goes into catching fish. There is studying the fish migratory patterns, finding the right bait, and working carefully when reeling them in so they aren’t lost. The clever fisherman works very hard to deceive fish. Despite all of this, it is still the choice of the fish to take the bait and hold onto it long enough to be hooked and reeled in.

When we go about our everyday lives we will occasionally come across ‘bait’- things placed with the intent of wasting our time, offending us, or hurting us. If we are not mindful of Christ’s mindset we can waste a great deal of time, energy, and emotion on worthless arguments. When I hear people discussing the latest Facebook argument I often tell them, ‘you took the bait.’ How much stress and effort is going in to ‘staying on the line’ while someone is reeling them in? We have a choice to keep on swimming.

Of course, there are plenty of situations outside of the internet that we can find bait carefully laid out for us. Maybe there’s a coworker with a critical attitude. Perhaps there’s a member of your family struggling with anger or bitterness. Every time I visit the department of motor vehicles it’s a struggle not to be frustrated with the bureaucracy of paperwork!

Jesus clearly teaches us to value our time and energy. We are instructed to evaluate if our words are falling on deaf ears. Can you imagine how ineffective the disciples would have been if they had continued to preach to people who would not listen?

Are we keeping Christ’s perspective in our everyday interactions? It can certainly be difficult to ask the Lord before we engage in a heated discussion. Let’s keep in mind God’s will and Jesus’ example before we ‘take the bait!’

In him,

Amy Horton

Living with Grief Part Three

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

This is the conclusion of our series on living with grief. May you live in hope of heaven! Some time has passed since these difficulties have come into our lives and I can confidently say the joy of the Lord surely renews our Spirit.

8. The new ‘normal’ – Life will never get back to the normal you once knew. It will be different, sometimes surreal. With time, there is a new normal. We should remember those we love, even when they’re gone.  Communicating that love to those who never knew the loved one can aid in the healing. Sharing stories about our deceased relatives and friends give our children a vision of heritage that they appreciate. That love continues to connect us from life through death.

9. Helping others who are grieving – The only comments people said that brought me comfort was that they were hurting with me. I remember very clearly a friend saying, “My heart hurts for you.” Sharing in the grief somehow made it easier to bear.  Sometimes the best thing to say to others is nothing.  My dad calls it “A ministry of presence.” Just being in the presence of a grieving friend often brings comfort that they are not alone.

10. Remembering with thankfulness the things of God – In times of difficulty, I try to remember examples of what God has done in the Bible, my own life, or my friends’ lives. This reminds me He is in control and is working His plan- nothing is out of His hand. Death is a natural part of God’s plan so that we are not separated from Him eternally. Often, we suffer with an “illusion of permanence.” We were never meant to be here forever. God has appointed a time for all to live and for all to die. Because of Jesus this is not our home. The pain, hardships, and disappointments we have in this imperfect world are all temporary. In my grief, I thank God for the privilege of knowing the deceased loved one, remembering the good things I’ll miss.  Being thankful for that person brings divine healing to our heart and soul.

11. Immerse yourself in beauty– My kitchen overlooks the forest. Everyday I would open the blinds and stare outside, letting God’s creation comfort me. God has made nature and beauty to touch our hearts and bring us serenity and peace. It costs nothing and can be a sanctuary amidst well-meaning people not giving you the distance to grieve.

Grieving is a process that never truly finishes. As long as we are in this imperfect world, Jesus promised we will have sorrow. He also promised to be with us and promised consolation. Thanks to Jesus, our time on earth is temporary! There is healing- and eventually we have a home with Him where there is no more sadness.

In him,

Amy Horton