Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Squawking of Chicken Little

Before I dive into a post such as this, I would like to say two things. One, whenever I share a truth, it is something I am walking through and the Lord is illuminating to me new, or at least in new light. I don't just research a topic to have a teaching to post. I speak to myself as much as I am sharing with you. Second, I loathe being misunderstood. Perhaps it's the people-pleaser in me, but for whatever reason, I desire greatly to have my heart heard in the best way possible. That being said, I also strive to speak the truth plainly, not watered-down, and with love.

We all struggle with fear throughout our lives, perhaps with varying degrees of difficulty or weak areas, but it can root there, nonetheless. We live in an imperfect, fallen world, and with that comes all realms of horror. (And yet, we can't help but watch as it's presented to us entertainment by the media. Hmm.) There are fears every woman knows, and then there are the fears that can only be truly understood once you have children. Suddenly other fears seem manageable in that new light. Perhaps it's fear that we won't have enough (food, shelter, clothes, money) or fear of being alone and rejected. The list can go on and on. My point is, insert your fears -here-.

While our imaginations can come up with enough fears on its own, the world, media, friends and family can easily pile on more thoughts. Watching only a few moments of news is enough to make you think it's time to fall to our knees, beg and fast for our country. Everyday there is a crisis to be averted, a new law to fight, a terror to flee. It can seem as the whole world is 'going to hell in a hand-basket'. Well, perhaps it is. After all, did not Christ himself promise in John 16, "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." We will have trouble! We will have difficulties! But is not the Bible full of those wonderful 'if-then' statements. We will have pain, but He has given us peace and has conquered the world.

God is mysterious, there is no doubt. His ways are beyond our comprehension. He tries His best to tell us, but there are some things we just don't understand. He promises us peace and protection, and yet bad things happen to good people. We've heard 'the prosperity gospel' and 'name it, claim it'. But what happens when we believe He's going to give to us, and nothing happens, or we 'claim it' but are not healed? Our faith weakens. Paul, of whom we have no doubt loved the Lord with all his heart and learned to trust Him and find abounding peace, yet he was imprisoned and beaten until nearly dead...multiple times. He was hungry and alone and abandoned, but that only pushed him nearer to God. We can allow hard times and the fear of living in this world to consume us, or we can choose to push on.

How do we live this out? Walking in faith isn't plastering a smile on your face and pretending everything's fine. Authentic faith is knowing when there is no healing, no provision, and even death, that God is still worthy of worship. Paul said in Philippians 4, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Pray, he says, take your worries to God. God isn't surprised that you're afraid something horrible will befall you and those you love. You aren't admitting something He doesn't already know you think! Cry out to Him and lay down your anxieties.

Second, get in your Word and quiet the voice of the enemy. Psalm 1 says, "BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]." Make the Word of God louder in your life than the word of fear. Don't allow the voices that tell of every horrible thing wrong to rob you of your peace in Him. Don't listen to their counsel; delight in the law of the Lord.

 I'm not suggesting we pretend nothing is wrong in the world and to shut ourselves off from knowledge of what's around us. Christ prayed an amazing prayer in John 17 for us, asking God not to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the evil one. So third, be alert. For the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour. Do what we can with the intelligence God has given us to protect ourselves. Lock our doors. Be aware of what's around us when we're at the store or in a parking lot. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting you to do, or not do something. If you sense you perhaps shouldn't park there, don't. It's better to never know if you were right. Those are specific ways in which I protect myself from my fears, so seek God for direction for you personally. We should be open to God giving us direction for things within our earthly control. If He tells you to do something, be obedient. However, we aren't always supposed to do something about every fear or worry. Not all of us are called to fight a new 'law' that threatens our freedoms. Sometimes we're just supposed to trust God for His protection for us and our families. We already know things will get much, much worse before the return of Christ.

In dealing with fear in our lives, we first have to recognize it, and then lay it before God in petition, and, most importantly, leave it there.  Beyond that, we must trust that He loves us, and those we love, more than we can ever imagine. It is this love that changes us. 1 John 4 says, "Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love." If we make living out the love of God our main focus, that drives away fear.

We are called to be different, to be a light, and a hope. If we don't live differently, what is there to notice? Let us silence the voices of fear in our lives, press on towards that which He has called us, and trust that He works all things out for good in our lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Strech marks on our souls

*Edit: 12/21/2009 - Although the link I used below is also a wonderful blog and similar in subject, it was not the one I intended to use. This is. Hope you enjoy.

Even though I am often inspired by other blogs, I try not to get link-happy as I share how great I thought they were. However, this one over at Holy Experience really struck a chord with me (possibly because my stomache is replete with stretch marks.) It brought me to tears as I realized how much those marks could mean on our soul. Pretty to the world? Not really. But what do they represent? Sacrifice, maybe numerous times. And while our bodies will never again be the same, I know the gift far outweighs any disfigurement.

May our souls also be replete with stretch marks as God births His miracles through our lives, laid down as living sacrifices for Him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Truth: Love One Another

My friend over at Thread by Thread posted a blog yesterday entitled "Liar, liar, pants on fire" and it really got me thinking. It brought to light so many lies I didn't refute in my own life. I thought hard on this and sought the Lord for what lies I allowed to fester in my heart. This is a reflection of my answer to such a poignant question. (You don't have to read her blog first, but it would probably help, because I'm not going to rephrase everything since she said it so well.)

I was reading the other day in Psalms and noticed once again a reference to how Satan works. (For another insight into the mind games he plays read The Screwtape Letters that she talks about on her blog too.) He imitates God. Christ is referred to as the Lion. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion. For those who do not have a strong walk with the Lord, simple distractions work. If we do have a strong walk, he has to be more subtle because blatant sins will not work for us. He will often imitate the things of God to guide us off-course. Just because something looks good, doesn't mean it is. Can blogging be a good thing? Absolutely. I am spurred on daily by the select blogs I read. However, there is an infinite number of blogs I would love to read that may indeed edify me, but that would distract me from my main goal and focus every day: motherhood. If I spend all my time reading wonderful blogs, my children are missing out on relationship with me. Therefore, I limit my bloggy activities to 10. If I want to add another, I prayerfully consider which to remove because 10 are about all I can reasonably read. (It helps that most of those are not daily postings!)

In my humble opinion, I believe Satan's favorite lie is "You're the only one." How many times have we kept a struggle to ourselves simply because we felt alone in our battle? Countless. Instead, we hide it away and either pretend it's not there or that we can handle it without help. I know there are many occasions that God simply has to work something in us, but I strongly believe He intends for us to strengthen and lift one another up in the body of Christ. We are all too often direlict in our duties to one another.

I have yet to hear a woman say she has never dealt with hurt and betrayal from other women. I also have yet to hear a woman say she has never inflicted the hurt and betrayal. How many painful memories have you buried? I am not saying this simply to dredge up the past, but to help us recognize the gift he has given us in our female relationships. All throughout biblical history, Satan has attacked with force things of great promise. When Moses was born, many of his generation were murdered in an attempt to thwart God's plan. The same thing happened again in the year of Christ's birth. (I often wonder what is to come of these 30+ years of missed birthings since Roe v. Wade.) The widespread hurt and pain among women has led me to believe there is something of great promise to be had.

I desire so much to bring the healing, love and acceptance of Christ to others. Sometimes loving that much opens you up to hurt yourself, but did not Christ do that very thing? Did He not love in the same self-sacrificing way? Who am I then, to withhold my love because I have just been hurt too much? It's easy to retreat into a self-protective bubble, but I think that's one more lie. It's a lie that it's okay to withhold the love and healing of God from others because we too, may become hurt. It's a lie that it makes no difference to anyone. It's a lie that people don't notice or care. We may not always receive the reaction our flesh hopes for, but does not Christ feel that pain every day when we reject His perfect love? Who are we to withhold? It may feel wonderfully rewarding when someone appreciates and reciprocates our love and unconditional friendship, and I believe that's what God hopes for. But that is not the condition of our outpouring of love. Mother Teresa says, "If you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love." Christ calls us to love one another as He loves us. What a high standard! Every loving thing we do matters, even if we don't see results. It is so easy to notice and remember the negative, therefore we should pour out without bounds the love and encouragement of Christ. One of my favorite quotes regarding ministry (and isn't that what love is?):

“Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping,

praying for others when you need to be prayed for,
feeding others when your own soul is hungry,
living truth before people even when you can’t see results,
hurting with other people even when your own hurt can’t be spoken,
keeping your word even when it is not convenient,
it is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.”
John A. Holt

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Mother Teresa

I hope you are as encouraged by I in this seeking of truth for our souls, to quiet the lies of the enemy in our life and listen more intently to the command of Christ: to love, without bounds or consideration of self.