Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lessons from the Ocean

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a lover of all things water but most especially the OCEAN! I love the beach. I love the serenity of the sounds of the crashing waves, the noises of the seagulls, the smell of salt, the vastness the ocean brings when gazing upon it.

I think more clearly when I’m able to get away for a few days to sit oceanside. While you may be reading this on a weekday, I’m typing it on a Saturday morning – with the expanse of the Atlantic ocean right before me. I’ve had some sweet conversations with the Lord this morning, and I begged Him to show me something new in this setting, something specific to His ocean creation. And He was faithful to respond very quickly to my request.

The ocean is authentic. Simply…it is what it is. It can’t put on a mask. It can’t lie. It can’t play charades. While there may be hidden secrets within the vast seas, the water itself simply does what it was created do day-in-and-day-out. Storms may come and shake it up sometimes. It may wreak havoc on land at times, but even in the mess, the water is still being authentic…doing what it was created to do.

I’ve been speaking a lot lately about authentic grief. I’ve done everything I know to do to be authentic in my grief process, and I truly believe it’s why God has allowed a HUGE healing to settle in back in January and February for me. I’ve grieved hard. I’ve grieved openly, and I shared last week some of the practical things that played into that process on my sweet friend Carey’s blog. Grieving openly can, however, bring it’s share of opinions – good and bad – most often from those never having experienced even remotely close to what I’ve gone through.

I’ve discovered that authenticity seems to be a struggle with Christians in general. Lately, I’ve witnessed a lot of hurt and pain slither it’s way through the lives of some beautiful Christian friends of mine. They’ve been wounded by the church – not the building, not the pastor, not the deacons – the people, in general. Why is it that we’re so quick to condemn, so quick to think we know how best to advise someone of what they should/should not be doing when never having walked in their shoes? Sure – there is importance and value in biblical, Godly counsel. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m simply referring to those of us (yes – I said “us” – because, speaking authentically, I’ve fallen into this trap too at times) that offer what we deem to be Godly counsel outside of God’s clear direction. Or perhaps – we use the scriptures as a crutch to appear “holier than though”. Often – we look a lot like the Pharisees of long ago.

Friends – so many people are hurting. Jesus came not to condemn but to save the world. He asks us to walk in a like manner in His strength. Again, I’m not talking about addressing outright sin. The Bible is very clear on how to handle that within the body of believers. I’m simply referring to loving – authentically – your fellow brothers and sisters regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Ask God to guide your conversations. Trust in the Holy Spirit to give you the words to speak. But, in all things, be authentic – NOT judgmental! We have enough falseness, hypocrisy, and judgmental attitudes in this world. How much more do we need to rely on our Christian brothers and sisters for edifying love and truth!

Who have you authentically encouraged today? Are you looking for things/people to condemn and judge or looking for ways to be edifying and loving, in Christ? Pray for God to give you the strength to “be Jesus with skin on” even when you don’t feel like it. Ask Him for the words to speak BEFORE you speak them and end up hurting someone. I know that when trying to do things in my own strength…I fail every single time. Let’s choose to honor Him by authentically loving His children!

“and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” ~Ephesians 5:2

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him, who is the Head, that is, Christ.” ~Ephesians 4:15

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  1. Beautiful, Leah. Happy Wednesday my fellow ocean lover!

  2. Nicely done. I totally get the ocean thing. Some day I’d like to walk with you on the beach and speak with you face to face my friend. Our journey began when your journey to grief did. I’ve prayed for you so much it would be great to see your smile. Nicely put about authentically encourage…that is YOUR gift. Blessings.

    • leahgillen says:

      Connie – You brought joy-filled tears to my eyes sweet sister! YOU are one of my encouragers today, and I thank God for you! I KNOW you’ve been authentically praying for me as well, and I do not take that for granted! Thank you…thank you…thank you! P.S. We need to have that girls’ oceanside getaway sometime indeed!

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