Sunday, December 14, 2008

Personal Reflections on L. Terkhurst's SAY YES TO GOD

(began post on 12-14-08; completed on 1-3-09)

I have just completed Lysa Terkhurst's book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. I wanted to blog the messages that spoke most to my heart.
"God, I want to see You. God, I want to hear You. God, I want to know You. God, I want to follow hard after You. And even before I know what I will face today, I say YES to You."
  • Lysa has made this simple request her daily prayer.
  • What an awesome heart to have for the Lord. Her words echo my own hearts desire.
  • God hears us when we call to Him. When we ask things, in accordance with His will, He answers affirmatively. How amazing would it be a recipient of this request each and every day?
  • I want to forever have this overpowering desire for God to be THE focus of my every moment.

Proverbs 18:32 (NLT): God arms me with strength. He has made my way safe. Proverbs 19:32 (NIV): It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

When I believe that I am powerless, I am believing a lie from Satan. I must remember that I have been raised in Christ. The Bible tells me that I am at the right hand of God; the power of the Resurrection lives within me. God is capable of more than I can imagine. He is there for me.

  • I wonder why it is so much easier to buy into the lies Satan puts in our paths rather than holding onto the TRUTH that God shares with us in His Word and guides us in through the indwelling of His Spirit.
  • There are so many times that I battle with insecurities that can only come from the Devil. I have allowed myself to believe that I am too messed up for God to want to live and work through me.
  • Meditate on the blessings I have through Christ.
  • I am enjoying the process of actually writing out, at least 5 blessings, that I receive each day. I am striving to step out of the box from being thankful for things like the sunshine, the grass, etc. to training my heart/mind to be aware of the miracles found in the actions, words, and presence of others.

Confidence is a gift from God. Rest in this. Rest in Him.

  • This has been an on going struggle all of my life.
  • I am so deeply ingrained in the idea that proper performance, good works, etc. result in self-confidence and acceptance.
  • I am FINALLY beginning to truly understand that I am NOTHING without Christ.
  • There is nothing I can do, say, or become that would even compare to what Christ has already done for me.
  • My confidence does not rest in my abilities or accomplishments. My confidence rests in God and what He has allowed, through Christ, to be in me.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

  • I pray continually for the Lord to replace my self-imposed barriers of protection with total, complete, 100% trust in Him. (Lord, I want to believe…help my unbelief…)
…Making the choice to trust God even you can’t understand why He requires some of the things He does…once you’ve said yes to God, you refuse to turn back, even when things get hard…When you look at your everyday circumstances through the lens of God’s perspective, everything changes…God sees each circumstance, each person who crosses your path, and each encounter you have with Him as a divine appointment. Each day counts and every action and reaction matters…Obedience, however, is more than just ‘not sinning’. It is having the overwhelming desire to walk in the center of God’s will at every moment…Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day…
  • I can’t add to Lysa’s thoughts noted above. I am in awe of the truth she has exposed.
  • I am in awe that this relationship with God is available to even me.
  • I am in awe that perfection or performance is not the goal.
  • It is all about Him---what He has done, what He has promised.
  • I have learned, through personal experiences, that to not be in the center of God’s will is a miserably dark, terrifying place to be. I found such encouragement when Lysa wrote:

Women who say yes to God will see life like few others. They are drawn in and embraced by a love like no other…they sense God’s presence all around them, all through their day…they pursue the adventures of the moment-by-moment divine lessons and appointments God has in store for them. They expect to see God, to hear from Him and to be absolutely filled by His peace and joy…a woman who says yes to God isn’t afraid to be honest with God...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving "Break"

(Completed 12-7-08)
Thanksgiving is over and all went better than anticipated. Marcus’ unexpected death shocked us all and several were concerned about the usual family gathering, but all ended up alright. I was one of the first to leave b/c I strongly felt the need for some time alone. Since the evening of Marcus' death, time has been a blur.

The past few days have been emotionally taxing. My heart was breaking for all of his children but especially for Kaylyn. I hate that Kaylyn lost a dad that she was so close to. I hate that Marcus won’t be here to greet his first biological grandchild upon her arrival nor will he be here to greet Chris’ 5th child.

I was grieving for them and at the same time encompassed with grief for myself, that totally caught me off guard. I was so saddened about a family losing such a good man. I was saddened by those hurting so deeply. Yet the sadness I battled the most with was the ultimate unfairness of life.

I was grieved for the realization that I never had a relationship with my dad like Marcus' children had with him; and was grieved that I, most likely, never will. I was grieved by the fact that Wayne and I don't, and most likely, won't have children of our own. The grief of Kaylyn losing the twins last year has just recently taken hold. And hearing the obituary read aloud that included the loss of "Baby Baker, Halle Jace Baker, and Marcie Kay Baker" struck a nerve that I thought I had successfully 'gotten over'. I have begun to grieve over the loss of our children, through miscarriages, that I just 'pushed through' with very little talk, very little sadness, and very little thought.

I am beginning to feel like an emotional onion. It's as if the Lord peels back a layer for emotional exploration. After much struggle, comes a supernatural healing that allows for a seemingly short amount of time of peace, before another layer is peeled away and the 'journey' begins once again. Though I am enormously thankful for the healing that occurs, I am growing weary and wonder how many "layers" there are.

Looking back...

I decided it was time to clear out the prior entries and have a fresh start. I've been looking back at my prayer journals from the past several months and am amazed at the journey the Lord is taking me on. I noted, at the start of my last journal, how imperative it was that despite my fears of doing so, I must disclose what was hidden in my heart and trust that God would redeem all that was going to be said or done. I am thankful, in hindsight, that He kept true to His promises. (The truth will set you free and He will be a comfort.)

Within that same month, the realization FINALLY sunk in that running and possibly dying were not what I was truly after but I did HAVE TO find a better way to live. In parts of my prayers during that time, I was beyond frustrated that I kept being told to "let God in" and I was internally arguing that God had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember and I didn't comprehend what was being expected of me!

In between my sobs, anger, and questioning, God 'told me' His perspective and that "a-ha moment" was life-changing. In the silence, I 'heard'..."You're right, Stacy. You have known of Me since childhood. You have regularly read about Me and talked about Me. You have spent hours sharing your prayers in writing and in voice. Much time has been spent on reporting the details of your life and the lives of those around you. You have acknowledged My presence. You have heard My words. You have shared My words with others. BUT you have never allowed Me to guide you. You have rarely allowed me to comfort you. You've held up your goals, your hopes, your dreams, your struggles, etc. for Me to see, yet you never trusted Me to take them from you. You held tight to what you perceived as control, sometimes out of desperation, sometimes out of fear, and often, out of simple, sinful pride."

At that precise moment, I realized that I am capable of nothing, outside of God. The illusion of control that almost took my very life was doing nothing but destroying me and hindering the plans of God. I realized that even the best of my abilities, and the largest of my accomplishments could never compare to what God is capable of and willing to do. I had falsely believed that I was close to God but I now realize that holding myself accountable to Him is not the same as allowing Him to hold me close. I, also, realized that I can't pick and choose which parts/words of the Bible to believe. If I accept one concept as truth, than all else, within His Word, is equally true. To think that God's Word can be treated selectively is arrogant, self-serving, insulting, and sinful.

Since that time, I have been learning how to "let go", how to pray and how to live in such a way that allows God into the depths of my heart---not simply reporting to Him the details of my life and the details of the lives around me. Daily, I am growing in gratefulness because of being given the privilege to be a warrior in prayer for those in need, including myself, while also having the privileged opportunity to come before the Lord with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.

I no longer feel called to honor, serve, worship, and follow God out of a sense of duty and obligation but out of a sense of sincere appreciation. I remain in awe of how this new-found truth has changed my thinking, my attitudes, my desires, and hopefully, with each passing moment, my abilities to love the Lord more deeply and to love others more selflessly and sincerely.

The last entry in that prayer journal included the following: "My efforts warrant nothing. ONLY because of Christ IN me is there any "good". I am lost without Him. I am a slave to sin without Him. I am destined for eternal death without Him. BUT because of Him, I am no longer lost because He is my Guide. Because of Him, I am no longer a slave to any sin because He is my Master. He has the power, and willingness to break any stronghold of sin in my life. Because of Him, I am no longer destined for damnation because He has given me not only eternal life but an abundant life, through Him, that is available to me now. He is my Savior. He is my Strength. He is my Power. Why would I want to do anything but bring glory and honor to Him through my every action, word or thought? I am a sinner. I won't always bring Him glory but He knows this and has already taken the eternal consequences of those sins away. How or why could/would I serve or honor any other than Him?"

Those moments of new awareness have thoroughly enriched my life. Yet, at the same time of enrichment comes an intense daily battle to set more appropriate boundaries in my relationships and to more carefully guard what I allow in my mind and heart. I am, also, learning that even though Christ said that the truth will set you free did not mean that the truth would not sometimes hurt like h***. Thankfully, God has graciously allowed others to walk with me down this path of "truth" and I hold on to the promise that NOTHING can separate from His love.