In part 1, 2 , 3 and 4 I have laid out the foundation for being an overcomer as I have learned from my mother. As you have read, her life had opposition and obstacles that she had to overcome. By faith, she has proven an example to me and many others so I thought I would share these with you.
LESSON 6: Be a God pleaser, not a man pleaser. To avoid the disappointment we have to look at the fact that God does not change the rules on us. People are fickle. If we seek their approval, we never know where we stand.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. –Galatians 1:10 (ESV)
When we are people pleasers, we lose Christ as our Master and replace him with the idol of keeping, growing, and using the relationships of those we seek to please. There is nothing more disconcerting than following the crowd, or a shallow friend. Who can love you more than God can love you? While we need to seek and form new relationships, often the boundaries are blurred when we forget who comes first. Christ.
To overcome the obstacles and hurts in our life we will have to certainly make decisions that will not please those around us. My mother, as a young woman in her 20s, decided to follow Jesus. This event in her life did not win over her family. It did not earn her points in the 60s and 70s with the Sexual Revolution and rampant anti-God mentality of the Bay Area. It meant doing hard things such as living responsibly, shunning government assistance once a meager income and home was provided.
Pleasing God meant bringing little toddlers in tow to church, praying nightly and daily for them, and sacrificing all to see that what God had put in front of my mother worked itself out with the highest integrity. It also meant not speaking badly of a former spouse or the extended family that hurt her so much. These decisions were not pleasing to herself, others, or society’s norms. They were done with the heart to please God. When we live like this, we overcome.
LESSON 7: Believe God heals broken hearts. God is capable of healing the wounds emotionally that you have. If your faith does not include God’s power to take care of your wounds, you may end up feeling stuck. There is nothing more hopeless than being lost.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. –Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
To live without hope is to be in the darkest place possible. An overcomer is humble enough to recognize that wounds exist and impair the strength we normally appreciate. But, with that there has to be hope. Healing cannot occur if the past is the only reference for joy, and the present the only picture of reality.
To watch my mother’s life all these years has inspired me to see I can heal. Her hurts of being abandoned by parents, a husband, and disregarded as a single parent might have crippled the joy and hope in her life. The opposition, the challenges of becoming a widow with five sons in her household gives excuse for at least an ounce of entitled brooding. But, overcomers shun the parade of sympathy seeking, living for a better future instead.
My mother saw the hope in her sons. Now, as a grandmother she continues to pray, inspire and dream for us and her tribe. To overcome is to be healed. She knows what this is like. To believe God will not leave you downtrodden forever is to be an overcomer. It does not erase all the pain, or even the scars left behind. It simply gives you a truer picture of Jesus.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. –Isaiah 53:4-5