My beautiful sisters....
It is hard to read other blogs sometimes when everyone seems to have everything together. I want this blog to be uplifting, encouraging, etc. So I have wondered "Do I let my readers know that I struggle with things? Or do I just post happy, calm, "everything is under control" posts?".
Well, I am going to post about a struggle today....hopefully it will be encouraging in the "everyone has issues" way. I chuckle at the quote "It might very well be that the purpose of your life is just to serve as a warning to others". Maybe not my whole life, but definitely last night. Last night was the culmination of the Lord breaking down my tendency to draw close to Him, then stray when things are going well. I told TWS a few days ago that I am like a toddler who runs off in the mall--as long as I can see mom, I am embolded to wander. When I am obedient, listening to her, I cling to her
Same with the Lord: as long as I could touch base with the Lord, have one moment of closeness with Him a day, I would spend the rest of the day wandering in my thoughts and actions. But that is not acceptable! Just like a toddler in the mall, it is not sufficient that I just pop in and say "hi" to the Lord, or make sure I can see Him as I stray!
When I am obedient and placing Him first, the confusions of life, the pains, the fears LITERALLY melt away in an instant. I am not exaggerating! When I am at His feet and focused on Him, there is "peace which passes all understanding" guarding my heart and mind. I can literally feel broken and weepy one second, and then feel peace and joy the very next second, simply by where my focus is.
But as I said, I get complacent, emboldened. I start to wander, thinking myself totally secure. Then the Lord has to bring me back to Him with a lesson. I mentioned this in my blog a month or so ago, and it has happened again, much the same way! I got my focus on ME instead of Him, and found that the world is cold, dark, dangerous, sorrowful, hurtful, uninteresting, unbeautiful, and lonely.
This is how it happened:
I posted yesterday about the doldrums...the grey sky days that have been plaguing me (I honestly do not remember the last time I saw the sun!). When I posted, I still had some humor about the situation.
But my humor turned into frump which turned into a snit which turned into a conniption which turned into a melt down. It was coming, I should have seen the signs and made it my PRIORITY to turn my attention back to the Lord. But at that time, I was so involved in "me", that I did not know what to do. I was like my cat that I mentioned yesterday--ankle deep in cold water and nowhere to turn that was safe. I had bolted out the door of the temple of the Lord and found myself wishing I hadn't!
I will spare you the details of how bad it was BEFORE I went to bed. TWS and I got into a discussion that I should not have entered (I was not capable of much reason at that point), I spent all evening counting all of my frustrations and fears and such.
Suffice it to say that I knew I was in trouble when I started crying each time I lost a "bubble" computer game. Yeah, I was pretty much a mess.
But at this point I still was standing in the water, so to speak, not knowing where to turn.
So we go to sleep and I try to do everything I can to not have to wake up in the middle of the night. But I ended up having a dreadful, horrible dream. Not frightening, just ....ugh. So again, around 2:30-3 am, I am awake, my brain is filled with horrible images from my dream, and I cannot be logical at all. Every sound is something bad, the dark (which honestly does not bother me) is terrifying. My brain alters between images of that dream and fears of losing my family and a million other depressing and horrible things. I cannot decide if I should go check on the babies, go watch tv, stay in bed. Will I wake TWS? He told me to if I had a bad dream, but he is so tired! Do I go check the babies? What if I do and that wakes up TWS and what if I don't and there is something terrible happening? What was that sound?
Thank the Lord my glasses fell off the nightstand and that woke TWS. He was his usual, blessing-from-God, self, calming and sweet. An hour or so passed, and gradually my fears and frustrations diminished to the point where I could understand what was going on. I realized that my sleep problems, my emotions were all my own doing--I had gotten complacent with the Lord's grace, lazy with His mercy. When that happens, I think the Lord has to bring me to a point of sleeplessness for days, because my will and strength and self sufficiency has to be broken down with lack of sleep. I turned my focus back on Him and there was rest.
Sisters, please allow me to encourage you who have no peace to focus on Him. Now, you might say "I pray to Him all the time! I love Him!". Of course you do! I do too! But think about it this way....you know when you love your husband or children, you chat through them about this and that through the day, right? BUT that is DIFFERENT than when you are having those "bared soul" times, where you are paying close attention to them, listening to every word, you measure your response, you are not distracted. You are not multitasking, you are PAYING ATTENTION. THAT is the difference, at least for me. I tend to get to where I am talking AT God, not TO Him. I pray often, but they are more "fly by" prayers, or my mind starts wandering. I start building walls, hardening my heart. I focus on what *I* want, what *I* fear. I snatch back my broken toys and not let Him fix them. I get irritated with why won't He let us move....yesterday I was irritated with Him that He would not let the sun shine.....
Ok, I am going to stop for a moment. I was typing the last few words about letting the sun shine, and I looked over and it IS! I am not exaggerating! AT this very moment, the sky is bright, the leaves are shining and there are actual shadows! Praise the Lord for His mercy!!
WOW, that was neat! He is so kind to us. He is kind to us when we are obedient, and kind to us in His discipline. I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy, our ever present help in time of need....
OH! That reminds me of another something I was messing up. My dear sisters, I am ASHAMED of this. But the other day I was in a bit of a funk (it has been building). Well, almost every day at lunch, I read a Bible verse to the children. One of them was about Him being our ever present help in time of need. Now, I KNOW that He meant that for me. I KNOW that the Holy Spirit was saying "Child, listen! This verse is for you, to encourage you! This verse is given to you right now.". and.....i ignored it. :-(. I knew that it was for me, but I did not want spiritual encouragement, i wanted TWS to come home and say we were moving!!!! I wanted sun!!! I wanted....well I wanted what I wanted, not what God's plan was. And if I did not get what I wanted, I did not want anything else.
UGH, isn't that AWFUL?!? I am ashamed, but maybe this will keep y'all from making the same stupid mistakes that I make. I mean, the Creator of the Universe is giving me assurance and reassurance through His Word and then confirmation through His Spirit, and I stomped my feet. xsighx
Ok, I feel stupid.
Anyway, back to focusing on Him. Pray that He will show you how to focus on Him so that the blessings that He promises to you can be fulfilled. His promises are valid, if we do not have them, then that is because of US, not HIM. It does Him no good for us not to listen to Him. We are not doing any good at all to lead the lost, encourage the brotherhood of believers, or to give Him His due praise and glory if we do not have His promises taking place in our lives.
He will show you what walls you have up. He will insist that you stop relying on yourself. He will insist that you stop nursing your fears and grudges and grievances. He will insist that you abandon your anxieties and restlessnesses. He will gently admonish you to give up every little bit of "But I WANT this to happen" and to actually and honestly say "THY will be done.". Not "Thy will be done, BUT...." or "Please let Thy will be the same as my will..." but "If You, Sovereign Lord, in Your wisdom choose to take away from me my hearts desire, to prevent my dreams from happening, to move my life in ways that are different from my plans, I trust You. I accept this. I love You. THY will be done.".
He will show you what is blocking you from receiving the peace that passes all understanding. He will show you what is blocking your joy. I am telling you that it will all be you, not anything happening in your life. Joy does not come from every good thing happening to you. Joy is a gift from the Lord, no matter what is happening to you. Peace is not the cessation of the storm, but being with Him in the midst of it.
You might find, like me, that the peace and joy might be fleeting, maybe only an hour or a minute. Then it will seem to slip from your fingers as if you are trying to touch a rainbow. But do not lose heart! This just means that your focus has slipped. Now that you know, you can refocus on Him. If you are obedient, the peace will be steady and the joy continuous. If you are hardheaded like I am, He will have to bring you back to obedience, which is not pleasant but produces a harvest of righteousness. You will actually have peace in your painful situations, your fears will be foreign to you because He has given you the peace that passes all understanding.
I pray that you stop right now and go to Him. Right now ask Him to teach you (and then listen when He does!). Sisters, let my time of discipline serve as a warning for you to do much MUCH better than I.
Praise the Lord. Amen.