Sunday, October 28, 2012

Join Me: On My Knees and Ears Open

Be aware of what you ask for.

Did you read my last blog entry? I laid myself bare on the operating table, ready and willing for God to mold and change me. A wise reader commented how similar it sounded to the threshing floor process: dividing the carnal nature away from spirit so that God can impart more of His Spirit into you. Anonymous gave that definition in the comment from the last entry and it made a lot of sense.

I'm going to write about being on that floor. And I'm going to ask you to join me.

What? You're going to ask me go through that immense pain and suffering, you ask?

No, I'm going to ask you to open your ears to God's voice.

I was at the edge today. I've been at my edge at various times this week. Chaos and stress continue to pile on as though it has no care for my comfort. Is she overburdened? Oh, no matter. She's hunched over in pain both physically and emotionally? Oh, that's okay. She can handle a bit more. 

No, worldly chaos and stress don't much care for whether you are ready or even willing to take it on.

Looking back now, I can tell chaos and stress to keep their threats because my God promises:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

However, from being at my edge today...and nearly succumbing to the lies of the enemy...and then seeking company and mentoring from a dear godly girlfriend...I know now that I need to do something before I can "stand up under it."

I need to get on my knees and I need to listen. 

I've spent too much time being my own little "god" and saying, "That's okay, God, I've got it."

I didn't consciously know that; it was all so subtle. I even told people.

"I don't have a savior complex, but I am trying to" x...y...z...

I told people I was not trying to save my loved ones...create peace in my home all by myself, using my own strength and resources...but I was. 

When we try to be God to other people, we miss God trying to be Himself to us.

And I'm not missing God anymore.

It might have taken my face to slam down on the floor - yet again - but I see now.

I bow to Him and I am on my knees and I am listening.

My friend gave me the idea today. She talked about her own stresses and troubles and I realized that while our situations were very different, what we had to do was the same. She worded it so wonderfully: she had to get on her knees and she was devoting this week to strictly listening for God's direction and provision.

And because I like projects...and goals...and God-homework...and I like being part of a group...

I told my friend that we ought to be accountable to each other and email each other how things are going throughout the week.

Then I thought, why not open this up to you?

Is there something you ought to be getting on your knees for? Have you not had your ears tuned to God lately? I know I haven't. I thought I did, but my eyes are open now. Yes, I was blind, but now I see. And I'll probably have to be blind again and be reminded again, but this is all a process, isn't it? And God realizes that. He is a God of so many chances. And if you are genuinely wanting to learn, God is so pleased.

So join me in this prayer, won't you?

Lord, I give myself to you. I bow low and open my ears to hear any and everything You might say to me. I recognize that You could speak through other people - my family or co-workers or even strangers. You might even speak through my worst enemy. No matter what form Your voice takes, I promise to listen closely. I can't do this on my own, Lord. I can't live this life without leaning completely on You and I apologize for trying to do it through my own efforts. I invite You into my life, Lord. I am stepping out of the way so You can move in my life. Thank You for loving me, Lord, even when I am stubborn and not listening. I am on my knees, Lord, and I am listening now. In Jesus' holy name, Amen. 

I invite you to join me in whatever way you wish. If you like having accountability and goals and being part of a group, post how you are doing in the comment box. If you'd like to keep it more private, I invite you to email me. I hope this can spark conversation and community.

Bless you.
Let this poem minister to you, given to me by my dear godly girlfriend whom I met with today:

Last night I took a journey
To a land across the seas.
I didn't go by ship or plane~
I traveled on my knees.
I saw so many people there
In bondage to their sin,
And Jesus told me I should go,
That there were souls to win.
But I said "Jesus, I can't go
To lands across the seas."
He answered quickly, "Yes, you can
By traveling on your knees."
He said "You pray, I'll meet the need.
You call, and I will hear.
It's up to you to be concerned
For lost souls far and near."
And so I did; knelt in prayer,
Gave up some hours of ease,
And with the Savior by my side,
I traveled on my knees.
As I prayed on, I saw souls saved
And twisted persons healed,
I saw God's workers strength renewed
While laboring in the field.
I said, "Yes Lord, I'll take the job.
Your heart I want to please.
I'll heed Your call and swiftly go
By traveling on my knees."
By Sandra Goodwin

Let this song, "Word of God Speak" by MercyMe be our theme song for this next week.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Story Table: When All You Can Do is Lay There

[note: this took many days to write, so bare with me as it is now three or four days after this event]

I'm sprawled out on the operating table right now.

I have been split completely open by mess.

Things I have neglected kept building and building; my self-care had gone shamefully mismanaged and neglected. Things were not going well.

I am not saying things are perfect now, as I lie on the table. I mean, I see that God's hands are ready to mold me. Take me apart, squish me together again, reshape me, do all kinds of things.

I see that God is doing work in me.

And it's scary.

There have been nights - recent nights - where I have sobbed on the laundry room floor and cried out at God, not necessarily to Him - and said, "I don't want this call! I don't want to do what you want me to do."

I've gone to the brink of suffering and almost lost my footing and let myself be swallowed.

And today I was completely split open.

Thanks to a few trusted counselors and a friend, I'm gaining some perspective bit by bit. I'm realizing how I need to care for myself. I need to put my oxygen mask on before I can care for anybody.

And let me tell you - I've let my oxygen mask hang there like a tree ornament for years now.

Oh nevermind you, I'd say to myself. It's selfish to think of yourself.

(As God whispers His command: "love others as yourself")

Nevermind you, I've repeated for twenty-plus years. You aren't worth it.

But no more. I am not letting the enemy's lies dictate my worth. I will not rely on anyone but the Lord to tell me who I am.

So I have taken an R&R evening. I have had to force my mind not to dwell on whether she did all her homework or if that electric bill sitting on the counter is going to tip us into the red. I have had to walk away from a sink full of dishes.

This is not piously said.

I say this in shame because I had to force myself to say:

I am breaking. I need help. I need saving. If I don't change something now, I will be lost forever.

Lord, save me. Stop this. I am Yours.

So although the image of me on an operating table sounds completely helpless and vulnerable, I have complete confidence in the Almighty to make me into who He wants me to be.

Why am I sharing this with the blogosphere? And who, really, reads my blog, anyway?

Reading my dear internet-sister-in-Christ, Michele-Lyn's blog entry, "What is" I read many of my own mission statements.

I can't keep quiet. What happens inside this heart is important. Not because I am more important than anyone else, but because I know God is doing important things in me.

I am becoming stronger not by my own efforts, but because I lean on Christ to strengthen me (Philippians 4:13).

My life will be a testimony. It already is.

God will use my story to help others. He uses all of our stories if we let Him.

Our story is His story.

That is what I desire - for my story to reveal His story.

Great Physician, here I am on Your table. I want to be molded, changed. I know I am made new by my faith  (2 Corinthians 5:17) and I also know that I will continue to struggle (John 16:33) so I ask you that you humble me enough to listen to You always. I ask that you humble me so that I may carry out the immense calling that you have for me - to serve my family and model Your love. As much as my heart beats for Daniela in her village, for Compassion International, Food for the Hungry, WorldVision, Operation Baby Rescue, and so many wonderful organizations that help the mission field is my home. The needy children are my own stepchildren who God has placed in my life. And God placed me in their lives. It goes both ways.

And Lord, I'm sorry that I was getting so overwhelmed and upset and I wiggled and strained against Your guidance. Sometimes it is so hard, Lord. Sometimes, I admit, I don't want this call.

I admit it. I am human.

I heard on Susie Larson's "Live the Promise" show (yesterday? I forget) concerning God's calling, that, if your heart resists a bit when you hear God calling you to do something, then that usually means you know that is what you ought to do.

Why? Because it's probably hard. And we have a hard time with the hard stuff. 

Lord, I wrote a few days ago - bring it on.

And oh, you did.

You did so much that I found myself split open. I know you didn't cause this immense suffering these past weeks or months, but I know now that it needed to happen. I needed to be split open to see the light - Your light.

I needed to remember where I come from, Who I come from, where I must serve, and who I must serve.

I needed to remember who I am.

I am not anything or anyone defined by my childhood friends or current friends; I am not defined by roles placed on me by family. I am Yours, first.

I seek You, Lord. I seek to love others as I...

I am learning to love myself.

That is hard to type. I still hear echoes of ugly in my head.

But You ask me to love others as I love myself. order to love others perhaps I must dare to love myself.

Perhaps I must dare to let myself be split open and lay on that operating table and release my life into Your will.

And it says - your will is that I love myself.

And others.

And You.

Lord, help me love.

Help the ugly voices turn truthful.

Help the lies dissipate into steam on the mirror which quickly fades.

This I pray.

This I put out there in the blogosphere for Your glory and in hopes that someone might come along and read my story, Your story, and decide...

to love him/herself.

And to love others.

And to love You, Lord.

I chuckle as I look down at the necklace I wear every day. The abbreviated Bible verse has not felt personal until right now.

" reflect Him"  2 Corinthians 

So Lord, I seek You and I lay upon the story table where You mold and move me. 

That's where the big stuff happens. That's where redemption is found. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When You're in Denial about the Hard Stuff

free wallpaper from Proverbs 31 Ministries at

Oh God, I feel it. I feel the ache and the gnaw.

I have disappointed you.

You called me and I knew I was a chosen servant

Isaiah 42 (NIV)

The Servant of the Lord
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
     he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
    who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
    who gives breath to its people,
    and life to those who walk on it:
 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
 to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
 “I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
 See, the former things have taken place,
    and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
    I announce them to you.”

So God, I say to You now...your servant has fallen. Not fallen at Your feet during the time of trail, as we are supposed to do, but my spirit has fallen. I gave up when I was not supposed to. I let the enemy win when I could have fought more. 

For that I am sorry. 

And yet I ponder Ann Voskamp's words from today's blog

"When did I start expecting successful Christian living to be smooth sailing instead of stepping out of the boat in the middle of a storm?"

Why am I continuously surprised when trials come my way? When children misbehave or, sometimes worse, make such poor decisions that you fear for them? When spouses fight and don't understand. When you yearn for the old life yet know very well that you are right where you are supposed to be, for "a time such as this" (Esther 4:14)?

Lord, I know better. I know that there will be suffering and trouble (John 16:33) and I even know what purpose that has. 

So why do I spin and spit and sob and rot? Why do I get caught up in the I-don't-want-to's and that's-not-fair's? Why do I question - no, argue - your plan for me?


it is hard.

And we humans don't like doing the hard stuff. 

And I dared to pray that dangerous prayer: Lord, bring it on. 

I knew what my call in this season of life was. It was not what I expected nor what I particularly wanted, but I said Lord, bring it on!

As though I was the karate student in my stepson's class when they get too tired and want to quit. The instructor has instructed them to yell out, "Bring it on, sir!"

And Sir, I did say to bring it on. 

And You did. 

So why am I surprised that life is a daily struggle and has been for a while?

I know you are doing a fantastic work in each of us, yet I still squirm and wiggle, moan and complain. 

I have to do this hard stuff. I can't give up nor ask my mother to sign a note to my gym teacher excusing me from doing the high-jump because I am too anxiety-plagued. 

It's time to do the hard stuff. 

So Lord, I am sorry that this heart is prone to wander, prone to leave the Father Almighty who I love so much. I am sorry I put humans' opinions above Your own. 

I am sorry for regressing. 

Head up and eyes toward Heaven, I am ready for the day which begins tomorrow. 

Nothing extraordinary planned, just another day. However, it is a day where I can start anew. 

That's the joy of You, Lord. I mess up on the hard stuff tonight, but I know you love and forgive me; I know you recognize my repentance and love for You. I mess up on the hard stuff tonight, but I know that you give me the new day tomorrow. 

Hard stuff will continue to rain down, this I know. 

Seal my heart, Lord. Seal it to Thy courts above.