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the two thieves

Aint it the truth? I recently read, "We crucify ourselves between two thieves: the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow." (quoted by Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

When we look back with regret or look forward with fear we are totally missing the present. How often I am robbed by one of these two thieves. All of those could‘aves and should’aves... It is a very easy trap to fall into. How do I get out of the “tar pit” of the past or the unknown “fear fog” of the future?

I have found it helpful to ask myself a few questions:

About the Past:

1. Why am I feeling this way? Is it a legitimate, specific feeling or an over all “can’t quite put my finger on it” feeling? God is very specific because He wants us to deal with it and move on. The enemy works in “vagues.”

2. Am I feeling guilty about something? If so, have I dealt with it, repented and confessed it? If not, I need to go to confession and possibly do some reparation if I have wronged someone.

If I have repented and confessed and done what I can to make peace, and I still am feeling badly, then I can suspect that it is not a conviction from God but a sense of “false guilt” from the enemy to take my eyes from God and put them onto myself.

The enemy loves to rob us of all things good in life, including the beauty of the present moment. The Giver of Life loves to send us “nudges” called “conviction” that we sense in our conscience to help us know right from wrong. When we have sinned, He gives us a nudge to confess so that we can be restored into union with Him.

God is not in the business of just making us feel badly to make us feel badly. He only and always has our best interest at heart. So if I am feeling “guilty” and I have already gone to confession, I need to start telling the enemy to be quiet. Then I need to turn my attention to Jesus and fill my mind with truth instead of the lies that the enemy is whispering to me.

The best news about our sinfulness is that God can use even our FAILURES for His good purposes. It is true! He causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) God is in the business of REDEMPTION. DO NOT let the enemy tell you that you or any thing you have done is BEYOND His long-arm embrace of grace. No matter what you have done, His grace, mercy and love, are greater still.

Here is scriptural truth to feed upon:

If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us. Psalm 103:12

Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Therefore, if the Son has set you free, then you will truly be free. John 8:36

About the Future:

1. What am I worried about? I read once that 80% of what we worry about never takes place, I am not sure if it is true, but I really like the sounds of it.

2. Is it a legitimate worry? My friend Heidi says, “If you know how to worry, then you know how to pray!” Start praying and see what God does with the situation.

3. Is this a problem I have had to face before? If so, how did God bring me through it? If He has brought me safely thus far, He will continue to uphold me.

4. Are there steps I can take now to help get me to where I need to be to better handle the situation? If so, I’ll start now and stop fretting.

5. I must remember: The future is a seamless transition from the present. God has got it all under control. There are NO surprises to God, because He is already there waiting for me.

6. Grace happens. As my friend Betsey says, “Grace always comes in the moment.” You cannot picture how or where or from whom, but grace will be there when you most need it. Have faith in God.

Scriptural truths to feed upon:

I know the plans I have for You, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

So how do I remain in this present, this gift from God, this right now? I remind myself always that I am living in the presence of God. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and He will never let me down. I need not dread the past nor fear the future. Each and every breath I take is because He wills it, enjoy it and breathe very deeply. So... no worries.

Because-- Aint nobody got time for that!

Dear Lord,

Help! I need You to rescue you me from myself! I do not want to be the one who is never present because I am robbed of it by “guilt” from my past or fears of my future. Neither of these is from You. Help me Lord to have faith and to trust in You, the One I love with all of my heart. And please give me the grace to more fully rely on You, not in my own strength or understanding. I know You love me. Help me to rest more completely in Your love and enjoy the gift of this present day.

I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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