Here I am once again.
It is dark…
night has descended many hours ago.
I am upon my bed in restless hope of rest.
Half an hour ago my strength seemed to
escape through my pores and now
I am just here…
weak and with no one to go to
or spend this time with
He is my refuge and strength–
yes, I know what these words mean now–
they are, in fact, my life.
I’ve had four years to test them out and prove that
they are true because He had to be
all or I should be alone.
“You have trained my thoughts in grace, Father,” I intimate with wonder. “Before you took on my need, I did not know how to think with any rightness.” How I know God remembers my error-plagued ways. For years I could not see one concrete evidence of His kindness to me. Nothing that I would initially acknowledge as a blessing remained in my consciousness beyond that first moment or two of experience. I was constantly trying to pressure God into proving Himself to me again: I wanted Him to conform His love to my idea of a good show, a perfect dream.
“My perception of Your love was tainted by all the garbage that filled my soul,” I confess. “I knew nothing outside of contaminated impressions of life and You and me. I was in a really bad place. And it still amazes me that I can tell You these things in the past tense. Apart from You assuming the role of my Neighbor and Friend, I would still be there; the confusion and excuses continuing to reign over me. But, now You are the King.
“And as Your precious servant, I have been set upon a rock solid foundation, where I need not question the origins of my Hope, for there You are beside Me. The conclusion of the story–though I’ve not gotten there yet, I nevertheless know: You have won the victory in my life. No obstacle has stopped You; nothing has made You come up weak–short of the mighty triumph that was Your goal. I have been made stronger internally than I ever imagined I could be. You have given me hope and instructed me in a love-your-God-with-all-your-mind kind of worship. I am free…and I can only think that You are the reason!
So, this post has been a long time in coming! I have not been myself–or, at least, not able to carry out life in my usual way for some time. It is due to God’s unfailing grace that I am here to write this now.
I want to thank my friend at Learning My Path Towards God: she not only delighted me by giving me this nomination (five months ago!), but has blessed my spirit with her care and concern for me when I was struggling and needed take time to just be myself. I appreciate her praying and encouraging others to do the same. It comforted me to know that when I was so weak before God, my petitions did not reach Him alone.
Please visit her blog with a little encouragement:
Okay, I have seven things to tell you about myself.
1. I’m pretty private about a decent chunk of my life, so making lists like these is always a bit difficult.
2. When put on the spot I can never think of those interesting personal stories and preferences that a certain game or conversation calls for.
3. Spiritually, I feel like a mountain climber who has been to some pretty exotic spots with God, but has also paid the price to get there.
4. I value quiet time with God, though I have learned that it is a very personal thing that can only be traced out as you go along with God, learning what fellowship between your hearts looks like.
5. The year that just passed was a very difficult one, but I know that I would not be so aware of and knowingly dependent on my Father’s mercies if He had not allowed me to walk through it with Him.
6. I’m excited to report that I read 215 books in 2012–let’s see how many I read this year!
7. One of my favorite verses–one that has become a life verse and an anchor through many storms for my soul–is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And now for the blogs that I have found loveliness in–I hope you feel the same!
The pressure to be what others think I should be is strong and I don’t know what to do with it. Compliance has always been my mode of response; I don’t know if there can be another. What would life look like if I could be assured that what I’m supposed to be was in my Savior’s hands…was something that I could not lead, but could surely submit to?
Isn’t that a relief? You don’t have to make yourself be anything. You can simply be what I have called you to be because you know I am working that out within you. My child, you don’t have to worry about anything. What the world wants you to be is not a lasting entity or a worthwhile pursuit. Yet, if you will remain in Me, you shall know what real living and being is.
The new year looks to steal quietly across the landscape of my life. There is no big splash this time, just the whispered closing of this latest annal of my experience. Peace is present with us as I behold God putting it upon the shelf that houses every minor and major detail of my life thus far. And anticipation builds as God turns then and invites me to come sit upon His lap. He reaches for a new book, its unfamiliar cover a dusky color I cannot quite describe. When He opens it, my breath catches at the glimpse of a virginal sheaf, creamy and unmarred by words, by the touch of His Spirit’s call of destiny.
I do not know what to think. I turn from what will become the next record of my life to the One who will make that record be what it will be. I don’t know what to expect from Him–I cannot read His face. What does He have in mind?
“Lord,” I venture, “what are You thinking?” A part of my heart quakes with uncertainty: Am I ready to hear what He has to say?
And then He speaks.
Darling, it is good for you to be after My heart like this. I know this past year was tough and by all reasonable accounts you should be less than eager to abandon all to Me for another year. If anyone should choose to rate My track record, they should be no less than confused, if not angry with Me for how I have handled you.
I have not held you back from pain, I have not spared your spirit despair. Most of the questions you’ve asked, I have not answered. The plan I’m working I have not fully revealed. But, My child, through it all you’ve seen this single object of My heart: I want your heart.
You have not been afraid to give it. You have not let anything hold you back from Me. And what within you separated you from Me, you trusted Me to alter for the sake of My glory and your unending pleasure in My love.
So here we sit at the end of this year, and your eyes are not on what has past or even straining to see what lies ahead. Rather, you lift them up to Me, wanting to know just what I might have planned for this moment, just what I want to show you of Myself. This is what life is about. Life is what Iam.
Guilt is the unwelcome guest at every feast you’ve ever had with God. You have heard that there is supposed to be pleasure in these occasions, but you don’t feel any. In fact, you have a hard time imagining that such a thing is possible. Between God’s extreme holiness and your deplorable sinfulness, relating with God–even after you’ve received Christ’s sacrifice for your sin–seems like nothing better than an immense chore.
You wonder why God ever wanted a relationship with you in the first place. I mean, maybe if you tried really hard, you might be able to accept the reality of His wish to extend forgiveness and pardon to mankind. But why would He try to then establish a connection with the very individuals who never treated Him as He deserved before? The thought may strike you as relational suicide, with the only explanation for such being that God is really dumb. And surely, He can’t be that dumb.
But, what if this has nothing to do with being dumb. What if it has everything to do with Love–a love that will not give up on or relinquish It’s object no matter how exceptionally you fail. This is a Love that is too deep to be earned; to precious to be manipulated. It is yours for the taking because it is His for the sharing. You don’t have to worry about abusing this love with your humanness; It has already been broken for you. Christ put Himself through everything for you so that you wouldn’t have any second-guesses.
But, maybe you have second-guesses. Maybe you can’t quite release yourself from a particular in-your-head-replay of sin that seems to contest everything that Christ has accomplished for you. Will you pour out the matter to God, asking Him for every ounce of power necessary to claim His victory as your own?
When you try something out in God’s strength, there really are no limits to what you can accomplish. This sounds wonderful and profoundly empowering, but we must ask ourselves what is the point of having God’s power. Can we use it to accomplish whatever we want? Or does God already know what He wants to be done as a result of that strength-transfer?
In order to know what we should do with God’s strength, we should ask why God gives it and what are His intends for it. Truly, God does nothing without a purpose. By giving us His strength He is inviting us into His larger plan. Not surprisingly, what He wants to achieve is really only suited to Him, so when God invites us to step into His shoes, He must give us the power to lift that mammoth footwear to go where He would have us go!
What is an area of your life where you covet God’s strength? What do you think His purpose is for you in that?
One of my pet peeves with God is that He doesn’t share my pleasure in getting things done early. When He works He enjoys what He does, without concern for whether it fits in the schedule of anyone else. If we have a problem with His apparent slowness, then we will have to learn patience because He won’t adjust His pace for us. He doesn’t wait for us to approve the way He’s doing things.
God likes getting things done on time, not before time. I don’t understand that. To me, when I beat the shadow of a deadline in its maturing, I feel worthy of a medal. Time, with its limits and seasons define what I can do and how I can do it. Time gives me limits and I don’t like those limits–so I try to disprove its power to contain me.
But, when God manages time, He does not need to do special tricks to demonstrate that time is something He can beat. Time has never been something that threatened God. He can make it contain whatever He wants it to . He has no need to get ahead of time, He already is. Time waits on Him to know what it should be and so do we.
Perhaps we should consider time as one more blessing in our lives to humble us before God, to remind us of His majesty and preeminence in our world. Time stands at attention before Him and because this is so, we need not worry about the ways time affects us. If God is ultimately the One who rules time, we need not fight over how He manages it. We may confidently and contentedly exist in time, knowing that He who exists outside of time is our greatest Ally.
What are your fears regarding time–do you worry that you do not have enough of it or do you have reason to feel that God’s plans leave you with too much extra time on your hands?
I want you to know this. If you don’t know anything else from what you read here, know this. “I love you.” Yes, I love you, but that is not primarily what I’m concerned with communicating to you. You could live without knowing that I care about you.
On the other hand, there is a love you cannot live apart from. I’m not talking about the love of your parents, your spouse, your friend or anyone else in your life who is limited by the fact that they can only give expression to love; they cannot be love. I’m talking about One who is Love.
Before there was you, there was always Him. He created you because it’s so like to do such a thing. Everything you feel in longing for love is longing for Him. Everything you do in demonstrating love is identical to you pointing to Him with your whole being. Life itself is wrapped up in Love.
Certainly, not all of life is love-worthy–it is not consistently pretty and sweet, neither can it claim to have no need of rebuke. The truth is: Life that sprang from Love’s heart has broken Love’s heart by refusing to rest in Its hands. This life characterizes you and I from the moment we’re born. And from that point till today one great choice has been before us:
Will you return to Love?
Merriam-Webster: that definition: the person, thing, or idea indicated, mentioned, or understood from the situation. →
I’m so obsessed with me today. I just don’t know how to get beyond what I’m going through and how I want relief from trials God is allowing to be a part of my life at this time. With my pains as the gauge of God’s sovereignty, I can’t help feeling that some requests and complaints are in order. I can’t imagine a greater purpose in His dealings with me than sheltering me from intense experiences of need.
But the truth that has confronted me all day, and will continue to do so, is this: If God has a plan to work through evil, who am I to say that He should not? Attempting to function as His counselor serves a nonexistent purpose if He has not called upon me to assist Him in such a way. Now, surely, as my Father, God will hear my petitions words and take full account of my heart and its longings, but I must not expect the only demonstration of relevant care from Him to consist of Him setting aside His own wisdom to adapt Himself to my own.
When I relate with God in the midst of tough times, I must understand that the end of testing is not so much to end the difficult circumstances as it is to get to know my Savior better. Therefore, I must daily–even hourly, if need be–put aside all thought of manipulating God to adjust His plans to fit me. Because the main drive of His plans is holiness, He cannot affirm petty suggestions I make for a return to comfort and bliss that make nothing of Christ.
Rather, He relentlessly urges me to join Him in what He’s doing while the pain continues. He wants to waste not a moment of what I’m going through. His intention is that this would be a time for me to learn quietness when I would like to scream; trust when doubts run wild within me; contentment when my flesh reminds me again and again that I am not comfortable with what God is letting take place in my case.
He is not satisfied with me having a spiritual understanding that subsists in my memory of literary jewels located in such and such a verse. He wants His truth to mean something to me, personally; otherwise, His Word has not accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. Tribulations of the soul provide an excellent context for my faith to be built up in the only One who can feed my soul.
Even the strongest desires of my flesh, when fulfilled, cannot leave my spirit without longing. Thus, God shifts my attention from desires that are only temporal to ones that are eternal. He alerts me to the fact that more than just sating my physical and emotional cravings for comfort and pleasure, He has always wanted to the chief satisfaction of my soul. I was made for Him and no one else, nothing else. So, as long as I have Him, I may know that my being will be cared for in the most comprehensive way possible.
What about you: Are you struggling with some aspect of God’s will today? Have you, like me, been wrestling with the urge to tell Him what to do with you and how? Please leave a comment below, I would love to encourage and pray for you!