Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feelings and Faith

Ephesians 6:16: In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
I John 1:5-7: This is the message He has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spirituall darkness.  We are not living in the truth.  But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from every sin.
Isaiah 12:2: See, God has come to save me.  I will trust in Him and not be afraid.  The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.
Dear Lord,

Help me to bring all my feelings to You...even the ones that I wish I didn't have.  Father, you know that fear and anxiety still plague me.  I know that feelings are not sinful but I also know that they can be temptations to sin.  When fiery missiles of fear fly at me day night and night; these attacks from the evil one come at me relentlessly.  Enable me with Your strength and wisdom to use my shield of faith to extinguish these flaming arrows.  Help me to rest in my trust in You, regardless of how I feel.  Dear God, help me to persist until my feelings fall in line with my faith.

Please grant me the strength to be honest with You about these fears.  I do not want to hide or pretend in my relationship with You.  I know that if I hide the anxieties in the recesses of my heart that they will give birth to more fear.  Help me to bring my anxieties out into the Light of Your Presence, where they can be dealt with righteously.  Help me to fully trust in You, Lord, knowing that the fearfulness will gradually lose it foothold with me through Your merciful love and grace.

AMEN.

Personal prayers based on the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moments of Amazement Part 2

After that little outburst Friday night, I took a double dose of Nyquil and went to bed.
I woke up extremely early Saturday morning but felt surprisingly rested and alert---not a feeling that has been familiar in quite a while.

I wrapped up and went out to read my Bible but couldn't concentrate on what I was reading and ending up just sitting in the silence. I didn't actually hear God speaking but His words were more audible in my heart than I ever remember them being before. I began to journal what I was 'hearing'.


"I do know your heart. I am not learning anything new through this conversation. The question is 'Are you?' You have been crying from the depths of your heart for someone to just tell you what to do…that in and of itself shows that you are missing the point.  You can't do anything. You don't know how. Despite what you think--- you never have, never will.

BUT I CAN. And I WILL when you not only hear My call but accept it for what it is. I know you don't trust easily. I know you are broken. I know you feel irreparable. I know you have pieced your fragmented self back together---kind of like a warped, peeling, fading, edges torn, jigsaw puzzle. I can make you whole. ONLY I can make you whole.  You don't have to do anything---you can't. I have nothing but time and a love deeper than you can even imagine.

I am the absolute best of what you hoped for in a father, what you desired and longed for from others. Don't let your definitions of those terms keep you from knowing who I am.  I am Creator, Provider, Counselor, Rescuer, Comforter, Safety, Peace, Security, Protector and Redeemer and so much more. I am the beginning and the end.

Allow Me to be your friend---the trust will deepen, the understanding will grow and you will begin to comprehend that I have given you My all to be your all. I will not disappoint, fail, deceive, abuse, or abandon. When you allow Me to be your everything, those conceptual titles won't be threatening. They will become part of an all-encompassing description of love, security, hope, merciful grace, and peace.

NOTHING compare to Me and what I offer. Walk through the door, into My presence---straight into My arms, if you'd like. I will be here. It is not an illusion. I will be here. I won't leave. And you will never be the same again."

I wish I could say that at this point I accepted all and tearfully surrendered. BUT the conversation continued:

(My words    Response from God)

You make it sound easy.
It's not. Dying to self is painful. Wasn't easy for My Son. Won't be easy for you.

What if I fail?
You will. I won't.

I'm terrified.
I know. Go back to the beginning. Remember the little girl who literally ran down the hall to Bible Class to meet Me there. Remember the young girl who would sit for hours, under the stars, simply talking with Me and singing 'devotional songs'. Remember the insatiable appetite you once had for learning more of My Word. Child-like faith: BIG MOVE…little steps.
What's if what I offer is not enough?
It won't be. That is why I gave My Son to stand in the gap.

Still sounds terrifying.
What more could you want? I am everything. I am the all in all. I am love and My love does not and will not disappoint.

But I will be a disappointment. What then?
Yes, you will---guaranteed. Then I will comfort. I'll love. I'll guide and you will learn from Me.

I know this sounds pathetic but I can't remember a time in life when there wasn't a strong element of fear, self-preservation and self-protection. That is who I am. I am the strong one. I am the survivor.
And how has holding onto that illusion been working for you? You survived because of My mercies, My plans. Put down your sinful pride. It has never served you well and it never will.

You promise?
Yes. Already have. Christ was My sacrifice. He is not only your gift but your guarantee.

I am so tired.
I know. That doesn't have to remain the case. All that you must do is come to Me. Among the many things I will give to You is rest. Lay the burdens down. Don't worry if you collapse from the sheer relief of being free from the weight. I am here. I will catch you. I will bring you to Me and you will be safe. I know of your every regret, your every disappointment, your every fear, your every sin, your every smile, your every tear.

Nothing you fear that I will see will cause me to turn away and leave. There is nothing new for me to see. I've been here all along. I am loyal. I am compassionate. I am loving. I am steadfast.

The table has been prepared with all you've ever wanted; all you'll ever need. There is no better offer. I am sitting right here looking at your empty chair truly hoping that you will choose to occupy the place reserved for you. The choice is yours and yours alone. The door has already been opened. All you have to do is walk over the threshold. I WILL BE HERE.

THEN…the tears began and surrendering happened. And once again, I am amazed!

Moments of Amazement Part 1

Well, I know I have to be on the right path or else Satan wouldn't be so hard at work in his attempts to throw me off track.
    What began 2 weeks ago as a conscious effort to study the characteristic of God as presented in Scripture alone has taken a few twists and turns. After about 5 days into that proposed study, I began to struggle with recalling old memories ---nothing new surfacing, just kind of "re-living" some of my life's hardest moments. Night time became especially difficult, regardless of being asleep or awake.
    The emotions and such that occurred during that time shifted my focus on the study of God. Once I recognized Satan's attacks, I decided to 'outfit' myself in God's Word with the hopes that those Words would contradict what I felt like Satan was trying to make me believe. I was and remain amazed at how verses I've repeatedly read took on new meaning which included a huge sense of hope. I was loving the light that wasn't simply flickering in the dark distance but producing a steady stream of light.
    After meeting with Jim on Wednesday, I became painfully aware that I still wasn't willing to fully trust God and be done with my arrogant, sinful sense of control. Mind shifted back to becoming Scripturally aware of who God claims to be.
    I'm thinking it would be nice if all of this were truly as sequential as it seems to be in writing. There hasn't been an opening or ending chapter---more like overlapping events, thoughts, emotions, and actions in a difficult on-going process.
    Early Thursday morning, I awoke to the sound of my own screams. Upon fully waking up, I realized that, once again, I was "remembering" past events in fragmented pieces of reality. Despite attempting to go into work at ½ day, a migraine kept me home for the day.
    When feeling better, I continued reading through the Bible, noting the attributes of God. With each notation, I was feeling more like an open wound and truly saddened at my realization that I did not believe many of the "good" descriptions that I was reading. I know enough to know that one can't pick up the Bible and freely pick and choose what is true and what isn't. Accepting Scripture as Truth is an either/or option. Thursday night was filled with a lot of questions, doubts, and attempts at rationalizing but very little rest even though sleeping time was, thankfully, uneventful.
    The smallest things at work on Friday served to increase my annoyances, agitations, and anger. By Friday night, I felt as if I were an emotional time-bomb and felt as if I allowed the valve to even slightly open, that I would explode and there would be no turning back. The main emotions were anger and resentment. I stubbornly refused to let a single tear surface.
    Late that night, I sat and watched the movements of the night sky. I have no idea how long I spent outside. During this time, I began a conversation with God that went something along the lines of the following:
"Okay, You say You know my heart so You won't be shocked when I admit that 'No, I don't completely trust You.' I want to. I want to believe what I'm reading and am being told but I don't. A large part of my heart does not want to take the risk of getting deeply hurt ever again.
The concept of 'Father' isn't appealing for obvious reasons. Other concepts don't feel me with great feelings of warmth either.
Too much has been taken away. Seems like too little remains to risk being lost. I don't want to die but the idea of continuing to live like this makes death an enviable position.
I am reading about Your goodness but anger filled with why-and-if-based-thinking surfaces much more easily than adoration.
I don't know how to move beyond that. I don't know what to say or do to make that not be true. Regardless of supposing to feel embarrassed at even saying so doesn't lessen the fact.
I don't want to feel this way. I don't want that to be the end of the story. I am tired of the sadness, the fears, the guilt, the shame, the anger, the wavering emotions, the hiding, the pretending, etc.
I don't know how to do this and that in and of itself fills me with embarrassment, shame and anger. Even now as tears form, anger towards me and toward You overrides all. I am not shedding another tear in frustration over this.
This is it. This is where I am at. And I'm guessing that this is where I'll be and stay because not knowing what else to do leaves me still. After all, what I've been doing obviously isn't working so well.
I can hear the ducks over at the lake---how ironic. I feeling like a sitting duck---guess I'll be shot, captured, or set free."