Sunday, April 8, 2012


"Somebody has to pay."

It's the natural response when someone suffers loss at the hands of another. Justice is the expected cry of the wounded heart.

Last night, I wept, thinking of all that has been lost in my life as the result of actions of another person. Today is Easter. It used to be a joyful time of family celebration when all would gather in a home filled with love for each other – and now it's a painful time because what it once held has been scattered to the wind. It's no longer possible for us to gather around the family table enjoying the blessings of the day. Our table and the home in which it sat, have been sold. We see others doing what families do, and remember what we thought life used to be.

It's not fair. I tried to be the best daughter, wife, mom and grandma I could be. I loved my family more than anyone could ever know. Why have things turned out this way? Why am I alone, struggling to survive, when all my efforts for years, were focused on the betterment of life for everyone around me? Now, out there in places where I can no longer hold them, are broken hearts that I can't fix. It makes no sense. Aren't we supposed to reap what we sow?

This morning I went to the Easter service at our church (the Embassy in Oshawa). There was a drama, called "The Choice."One scene was a portrayal of Christ hanging on the cross, bloodied and bruised, with a crown of thorns jammed on his head. As I sat, alone, watching the actors trying to communicate the reality of what actually happened on that dark and awful day, I thought of the tremendous injustice Jesus could have felt, hanging there surrounded by mockers and misery. It wasn't fair. He had done the best job He could to communicate God's plan of salvation to the world. He had done nothing wrong. He was suffering because of the actions of others.

As I sat watching, a deeper revelation of justice began to unfold in my heart. I began to feel a gratitude for being able to understand a tiny measure of what Jesus experienced on my behalf and on behalf of the person who demanded payment for the offense perpetrated against him. I can't undo any of our circumstances, but Jesus was God. He could have pulled his hands free from the nails, jumped down from that cross, spoken healing over Himself and disappeared through the crowd. But He didn't. He stayed there until the blood that poured from His wounds gave way to His death and He said, "It is finished." His life was gone. It was His choice to take the injustices of the world upon Himself.

But it wasn't fair.

Is God not a God of justice? Doesn't somebody have to pay for the offenses people commit against each other?

Somebody did pay. With His life.

Nothing on earth can make up for the injustices perpetrated by sin, selfishness and perversion. Nothing can change the painful circumstances of the past. No amount of money can undo a sin committed by someone against a victim. No amount of attention and kindness can erase memories of manipulation and offense. No therapy can activate a magic button in the brain that releases the pain of betrayal.

We can rail against injustices, fill our moments so full that we don't have to think about the pain, jam ourselves so full of bitterness that it's impossible for anything else to get inside to hurt us, leave the perpetrators so far behind in our dust that they have no way of ever seeing us again or isolate ourselves from everything connected to the source of our pain – and still the injustice survives.

So - where is justice?

Justice lies in final surrender in a crumpled heap at the foot of the cross, finally realizing that nothing on earth can satisfy the blood lust in our hearts for payment. Our pain is too deep and too wide for anything to fill it. It requires Someone who is able to cover our deep wounds with the blood of Jesus - the price paid for the sin that tried to destroy us.

Amazingly, once we find ourselves at the foot of that cross, admitting our inability to exact justice from the world, God's justice begins to kick in. He fills our heart with the supernatural forgiveness that brings us relief through real peace and dissolves the walls that keep us from Him.

For Jesus, justice was found in the purpose of God - the purpose that, until He burst forth from the tomb in resurrection life, was totally hidden from the knowledge or understanding of man.

For us, justice will be found in the purposes of God - the purpose that we cannot yet see, but shall be revealed as we continue to keep our eyes on Him and trust that He has a great and wonderful plan.

The glorious destiny of Jesus did not come without great sacrifice and pain. Why should we think ours could be a cakewalk?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Forgiveness - The Real Deal

Yesterday, I heard Oprah say that forgiveness is all about you - it's not about the offender. It's a tool for setting yourself free from any negative feelings that bind you to the offender and then simply walking on and moving forward with your life, oblivious to whatever may be happening with him or her. It has nothing to do with condoning the hurtful actions of another. It's all about you and moving forward.

I bought into it at first, because the struggles of those around me who have tried to deal with horrible situations of offense would seem to merit that brand of forgiveness. If they could simply speak or write words of forgiveness and then shake off the bonds that tied them to the individual and forget him or her, life might take a fresh turn for them. Everybody knows that hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness have serious physiological consequences over time.

And Oprah was right in saying that forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning the offense of a perpetrator.

The problem is that I have seen sincere efforts, a la Oprah, fail. Now I am seeing people who have taken steps of that kind of forgiveness encased in thick walls of anger or cloaked in denial of real feelings. That kind of forgiveness doesn't work over the long haul. It's powerless.

So - what's the real deal on forgiveness? How does one really do it?

Well - in order for a definition of the concept of forgiveness to have merit, we have to go to the architect of the concept. In this case, it was God Himself. He designed the concept to deal with the offense of the world as a means to have it (us) restored to Him. That was the whole purpose of forgiveness. Restoration.

Now it gets complicated. Restoration takes us where we don't want to go with a person who has hurt us badly.

I thought about what it would be like if God were to watch Oprah and follow her direction for forgiveness. A word from Him, to us, would have to go like this: "Okay - so - you've really hurt my feelings because of what you did. However, I know that in order to keep myself healthy and move ahead with my life, I need to forgive you. So - I forgive you. However, that doesn't mean that I ever want you in my life again. You've lost my trust and I don't ever want to have anything to do with you again. I'm setting myself free of you. Goodbye."

That scenario obviously falls very short of God's meaning of forgiveness. We all know that in order for Him to accomplish His own absolute forgiveness, He had to make the greatest personal sacrifice. But He did it. It was so difficult for Him, that the whole earth turned black in the process. The light went out of the world. It was a time of intense separation from His personal comfort - but it was a temporary separation that would lead the only way to genuine peace. Restoration.

I thought about my most significant experience with forgiveness. It immediately followed the very moment of the most intense offense of my life. My husband's confession shattered everything I had built over a lifetime. As his words came to me over the horizontal plane, a supernatural gift of forgiveness, grace, mercy and compassion was dropped from above, vertically, into my brain, heart and soul, accomplishing a preemptive strike against bitterness.

At that moment of intense pain, I didn't have to scrounge around trying to find God and cry out for His support. He was already there. I already had a relationship with Him. His Holy Spirit was already inside and around me. He was already positioned to do His work.

As we stood there, it was as though the Grand Canyon opened up between my husband and me. Our marriage was over – but that didn't mean I rejected him as a person. His actions had made it impossible for us to proceed with the nicest plan for our lives (an intact family) but one doesn't throw people away. People are not disposable.

As my husband faced me across the yawning divide of the canyon, I saw him as a prince who had traded his kingdom for a bag of snakes. He had bought into the lies of the enemy who had seduced him with the "joys" of sin and now he had to deal with the outcome of his trade. I felt sorry for him - that he had been so weak as to buy into the lies.

That supernatural gift of compassion has enabled me to continue to value the father of my children, help him in whatever way possible to get back on his feet and restart his life, and experience the genuine peace in my heart that is so critical to truly moving ahead with my own life. It has enabled me to live above the potential, personal destruction.

I believe that true forgiveness can happen only as a gift from the heart of God. It cannot be contrived, drummed up or structured from the limitations we place on it. If one really wants to forgive, one has first to genuinely connect to God in sincere desire to experience life's "real deal". When one is willing to lay down all the hurts, the disappointments and shame of life, God will heal the heart and allow us to extend His forgiveness through us.

Empowerment? It requires a Source beyond ourselves.
(Copyright 2012, Diane Roblin-Lee)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Day of Grace...

This will be brief tonight because I'm exhausted – but I cannot go to bed without giving God the glory He so richly deserves.

Sometimes I hesitate to tell about all God does in my life because it so often concerns His divine supply and I think people must get so tired of hearing about my constant financial stresses – even though they're told about them only when God has, once again, proven Himself faithful. I don't know why it has taken me so long to get back on my feet, but the reality is that it has. I often feel like a rubber band stretched tight between crises. I am not blind to the fact that each crisis is another opportunity to see the miracle-working hand of God. Without them, I might not be as aware of my dependence on Him and His care for me – and yes, I do tithe. :)

Today I had to put a print order in for a Christian college. As soon as Fedex delivered their cheque, I ran up to the bank and deposited it so that I could upload their files for the urgently needed order. When the teller looked at the cheque, she asked me to wait for a moment and went in to show it to the manager. Because the college had moved, they had overstamped their address with the new address and, granted, it was somewhat difficult to read. The bad news was that they would have to hold the cheque for five business days until it cleared.

Knowing how urgently the order was needed, I came home and crunched numbers to see how close I could get to submitting the order with my own funds and still be able to meet my critical commitments. No matter how I crunched, scrunched and finagled with the figures, submitting the order would run me about $450.00 short in covering my own needs. Nevertheless, I uploaded the files and trusted God for the next step.

I'd like to say that I breezed through the day with full confidence, considering the lillies and how they are adorned, neither toiling nor spinning – but that wasn't me today. My heart was heavy with the demands of life and every drop of tension settled in my shoulders, turning them to stone. Nothing went right all day.
Late in the afternoon, the phone rang. It was a teacher who had stopped by my Legacy Links booth at the fair last summer. She said that ever since our meeting, the possibilities of the Legacy Links project had stuck with her in terms of its potential for use in her grade six classroom. She wanted to pair the students with seniors in the community for the communication of wisdom, insight experiences and wisdom.

Wow! Just like that. She's presenting the project to the school tomorrow and if they proceed with it, her order of journals will come to almost exactly $450.00.

Coincidence? Not a chance. It has been another day lived in the grace of God - by design. Whew! Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Almost Missed It!

What an interesting day today!

Let me go back a bit...

Ever since restarting my life six years ago, my desire has been to find a way to make an income without deserting my first love - which is to serve God and really make my life count for His Kingdom. And so, in the development of my business, byDesign Media, I've done graphic design work for ministry organizations, produced Christian magazines (The Crossroads Compass and 50 Plus), published Christian books and served on the Heart to Heart Marriage and Family Institute Board. Making money from secular endeavors was something I tried to avoid. However, I have come to the point where I realize that my idea of where I serve God and derive my income may, at times, differ from His.

Recently, a couple of Real Estate agents asked me to do some personal profile branding work for them and so I did. They loved the work and it became evident that there was a market for my services in that industry. Recognizing the potential for expanding my company, I designed a flier to focus on personal profile (branding) services and put together a package for potential clients. While I was somewhat intrigued by the possibilities, my heart wasn't in it because I felt I was letting God down by drifting away from 'ministry involvement.'

So - that brings me to this morning. I didn't really feel like going to church because I've gained some weight and didn't look forward to going out where it would be obvious. Having worked late last night, I was tired and very tempted to crawl back under the covers and hide from the world. Nevertheless, I got up,showered and managed to get the zipper on my pants pulled up.

Once at church, all the negative apprehensions and tiredness dissolved in the wonderful, warm glow of the presence of God. Following a incredible worship service, my pastor (at the Embassy) began to talk about transitions in life and the call of God at unexpected times in our lives. In the midst of it all, he mentioned that he was going to be speaking at a Real Estate conference this week. I thought "Wow - if God is opening doors for him to minister in the Real Estate market, maybe He has a purpose for me to step into the secular marketplace as well!" It was so odd for my pastor to mention real estate when I was having such a battle with the surrounding issues. I began to think about the importance of being salt and light in the world - not just in Christian circles. Marketplace ministry can be just as purposeful as pulpit ministry - sometimes more so!

Following church, I saw a disabled man who I knew lived about five miles from the church, walking out of the parking lot. Despite the fact that I was headed in the opposite direction, I stopped and asked him if I could give him a ride. I don't know him well, but have given him a ride on previous occasions. I have to preface what I am going to say with a bit of background information. This fellow is in his mid-thirties and, following a devastating car accident which resulted in brain injury and the loss of his wife, family, home and business, God has been doing amazing things in his life. He took him to Heaven at one point and then sent him back to earth to minister to people in specific ways. When Robert speaks a word over people's lives, it's usually right on and remarkable.

When Robert got into the car, he asked, "So - are you a real estate agent?" Somewhat surprised, I asked him why he connected me with real estate. He replied that I had the aura of a real estate agent all over me. Interesting. Weird.

When we arrived at his home, I began to feel that I should invite him out for lunch – but I really didn't want to because I was afraid someone might misinterpret us being together or whatever. Nevertheless, I felt so impelled to invite him that I finally could no longer resist and suggested that we go to MacDonalds because a friend had given me one of their gift cards for Christmas.

As soon as we went in the door, Robert made a beeline for a family (strangers) for whom he had a word from the Lord. As he spoke into their lives, the family was obviously overwhelmed with amazement at what was coming out of his mouth. By the time they left, we had made new friends and it amazed me how God had used Robert.

Well, then we sat down with our burgers and a young man came and sat at the table next to us. The ever-friendly Robert extended his hand and introduced himself, making the young fellow feel included in the situation. Feeling as though God had some sort of purpose in all of this, I asked Robert to tell me all about his experience in heaven. That led to some interaction with the young fellow (Ryan) and we learned that he was a Christian and a music teacher, but had been diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder and was on medication. Long story short, Robert prayed for his healing and, in the process of ministry, discovered that what he was praying with regard to some other aspects of his life, were right on target. It was so wonderful!

I ended up driving Ryan back to his work and on the way he expressed his amazement at the obvious divine appointment.

And I almost missed it! If I had given in to my desires to skip church or just drop Robert off at his house and ignore the prompting to take him to lunch – the divine appointment with Ryan and the other family wouldn't have happened. God's plan for Ryan would have been short-circuited.

Not only that! Had I stayed home from church this morning, I would have missed the two confirmations with regard to God's leading with my work! Now I feel as though I can put my heart into developing personal profiles (branding) for real estate agents and mortgage brokers and whomever else needs my help because God can give us opportunities to serve Him wherever we are – by design!