Monday, September 29, 2014

Thinking of yourself less

For the last few weeks I have been thinking what to write and it seemed nothing would come to me.  I wondered if I was just to stop writing for awhile and I still might.  I have ask my daughter to write some and she may.  Usually thoughts just come like pearls rolling around on the floor and I simply string them together.  I am doing really well mentally and I wonder if that is why I have no obsessive thoughts.  Some people on meds don't take them because they feel it keeps them from having gifts and talents.  Lots of talented people are mentally ill.  It is no surprise.  My daughter said so mom had you rather be talented and crazy or not and mentally sound.  Well of course I hated to see the gift of my writing go but there was no choice.  I loved having a sound mind after these few last months.  My doctor said my writing may change.  But I may still write.  I was very me focused and what did God want me to do now that my writing may end.

I thought of some other times I was me focused when I was in grade school.  I thought of first grade and my blue and white checked glasses and short hair.  Then there was junior hight school, when I had a cast on my leg and trying to walk upstairs.  Then as I entered high school and had a blemish on my face I was sure everyone was looking at and I knew would leave a huge scar.  These times did past and I was not the focus of my thoughts anymore.

Now the things that can bring me into focus is when I am suffering and times are hard.  I tend to look inward.  When I am wanting my own way and won't give up control.  When I am insecure and don't remember who I am and doubt everything about me.  When I wonder how I am living this christian life and if I am a success or failure.  I am worried about me.

I think of Peter, when Jesus called him out onto walk on the water.  It seemed impossible but he did begin to walk until he looked down, at his circumstances and to see how he was doing and he began to sink.  Jesus reached out for Peter.

C. S. Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinkings of yourself less.  I use to put myself down all the time.  I had an overly sensitive conscience.  I thought I was always wrong.  I was afraid to fail.  I was not trusting God and I didn't know who I was in Christ and what He had done for me.  Oh I knew it in my head but not in my heart.  Not where I live every day.  I did not possess the things that would give me a humble confidence but I was filled with fear upon fear.  I seek the approval of others.

As I remember it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, I remember it is the life of Christ that is living through me by His Spirit.  The same Spirit that lives in Jesus and the Father.  I am forever forgiven.  I am righteous with the righteousness of Christ.  I am loved with an unconditional love.  God is never disappointed in me because Jesus life is mine.  He is always for me and when He looks at me He sees the goodness of Jesus covered me.  He will be faithful to me no matter how I struggle and He will finish the work He has begun in me.  I am His most treasured creation.  A prize possession.  His grace is on display through me and I am to let it shine and give Him my best by trusting in His Son and His finished work on the cross for me.  He will never, ever let me go no matter how I blow it or how little faith I have because He declared it as finished.  I will receive the prize which is Jesus one day and when I see Him face to face I will be like Him.

When I realize these things I am focused on Jesus and the Fathers love for me and His Spirit.  I am thinking more of others than myself and how I can serve and love them.  I have faded into the shadow  of the background because I am secure in who I am in Him and His love for  me.  I no longer seek the approval of others but seek to please my Father by trusting in His Son.  My doubts turn to faith.  My limitations don't make me feel inferrer but I embrace them and stay within my limits.  My ugliness then becomes white as snow.  My sins are forgiven and forgotten.  My hopelessness becomes hope filled.  My weakness becomes His strength.  My independence becomes dependent on Him. My isolation seeks community. Things that are big become small.  My striving becomes like rest.  My failures become losses I was never meant to have. They point me to my need for my Savior.   He is my treasure.  Others cares are my hearts desire.  It becomes broken as I repent of my pride.  I no longer seek perfectionism but beauty.  I celebrate others instead of endure them.   And life is full of peace and joy, Him.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I fall down again...

 Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Last week was suicide prevention week.  Someone dies, they say, ever 40 seconds of suicide.  Little is said and we are quick do nothing at all, because we don't know what to do.  One in four struggle with mental health and this explains a lot, but most of us have struggled one time or another with wanting to just give up.  We don't know how to deal with the pain in our lives so we seek relief.  Suicide is not the answer.

After I began to bring ever fear captive the fears stopped but, some thoughts, not good ones came.  I felt it was warfare, but my meds were not working.  I said with every bad thought, I praise God that my sins are forgiven.  A friend and I prayed.  The thoughts left but not the continual struggle.  Then it was like I was just struggling all the time, to keep my thoughts at bay.  I called my doc and made an appointment.  I told him something was wrong and I couldn't keep calling the office.  I didn't think my med were working and I knew he had tried before, but I wanted to try some nutritional things.  I have been on this med for 20 almost years.  My legs were swelling.  He tapered me off and started a new med to me and started me with supplements, exercise and diet to hopefully limit the amount of med I am on and effectiveness.  I cannot tell you how wonderful I am doing.  I have a clear mind most all the time, but maybe a couple of times I have struggled,  right before it is due to take the med.  It was, is, all of grace to me.

I wish everyone could see how God is not just at the center of our faith and relationships but He is the center of every part of our life, our soul and heart, which is how we live.  Even how we deal with our health issues whether it is mental health or not.  How are we receiving our bad health?  What is God doing or wanting to teach us.  Are we depending on Him and trusting Him with even poor health?  Do we believe Gods hand is in everything thing in my life and that He is sovereign over all?  What are our hearts condition as a response to our poor health?  Anxieties, depression, lack of functional ability, family issues with it.  What are we believing in and trusting in our good health?  Do we hold this life loosely?  But at the same time value it and live it to the fullest?  How we respond to difficult circumstances is a reflection of what is going on in our heart.  You may have heard the mentally ill are weak but in reality they are way to strong, with their own strength.  God wants us dependent on Him and not ourselves and be strong with the strength of His Spirit not our selves.

I don't know when I have struggled more than these last few months.  It just didn't get any better but seemed harder and didn't quit, well much.  My flesh dealt with wanting to quit, whatever that means.  I was just discouraged and tired and didn't know what to do, so I wanted to do nothing.  My suffering seemed to keep me mostly self focused.  Not thinking of those I love.  But because of Jesus perseverance and His Spirit living in me I kept falling down but getting back up.  I had to rise above the darkness, but I couldn't on my own.  It was torture because of the nature of it all and my lack of control.  I wouldn't want to go back but wouldn't give anything for all the fears, paranoia, obsessiveness, doubts, and what God taught me through it all and how I have seen so much in my life.  I am so thankful and grateful He is in charge and I am not.  Thankful also for a clear head now and moving forward in this life He has so graciously blessed me with.  The one I needed, to depend more and more on Him.  May I continue to look to Him as my righteousness and know I may never get things together, but I have been showered by grace and so I press on, not because it depends on me, but because He lives in me and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  Now I am thinking I feel great and want to do everything I want.  I have to learn to embrace my limitations and try to enjoy life that God has given to me with a thankful heart.  Be wise and discerning about what I take on and what I don't.  Our health is precious.  Life is precious.  But I fall down and He picks me back up again.

I once had a friend who was moving across the country to be a missionary.  She later said, but my heart went with me.  We think if we can just get the right circumstance our life will be different.  It is nice not to have intrusive thoughts, but my heart was revealed in the midst of things going, what I thought was, all wrong.  But I now see, it was all right, for this time in my life.  God is always right on time.  So I encourage you, to not give up, but to depend on God.  To persevere with His perseverance.  Tell someone who is struggling God has a plan for His children.  That we have purpose and love and value and worth.  That this life is a gift and you care.  If you are the one struggling reach out to someone today and don't stop until you find someone who will listen.  You are created in the imagine of God and you are loved.  You are His most prized creation.  God is our comfort, peace and our joy.  It is through Him that we find the love, peace, value and comfort we so long for.  It is not a running from, but a running to, to Him.  Love finds its way to us, so we can find our way to each other, Bob Goff.  All of grace.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The stars shine brighter in the pit.

It is still early morning and I have been up for a while thinking, pondering, meditating on the things of God and life and how it all fits together.  I think of the cross and the bitter sweetness of the suffering and pain, the victory and beauty.  The things God has done for me and taught me mostly out of suffering and failure.  A lot of my own doing.  I wish you were here with me this morning feeling the breeze, listening to the crickets and seeing the stars hanging about in the darkness still.  In many ways I am in my last phase of life.  I don't have regrets now.  I have gotten over that.  But what I do have is lessons learned.  I would love to have a cup of coffee with you this morning and talk over such things.  Instead I write.   I wish I had lived life differently.  I wish I had lived life rather than trying so hard to be a good girl and making people happy, seeking their approval and making life work.  I think they call that co dependent don't they?  When the happiness of another makes or breaks your happiness?

They say to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity.  I not only did the same thing but I tried harder and harder to do it better.  Some call it a perfectionist.  I have the results of this on my mind, now, that I live with everyday.  But it is amazing to me that even with that I had rather have the mind I have, in it weakness and be dependent on God than to have a healthy mind and live life self reliant, independent of relying on God, strong in my own strength thinking I needed to be able to do it all own my own.  From the time we are little children, we either say I will do it myself or we lean on our parents to care for and rely on, to help us, do the simplest of things we cannot do.

 I don't think it was until later in life that I built walls around me of protection because of not getting the things I thought I needed in the way I needed them.  Of being needed and not being able to give of myself, my heart for fear of hurt.  I had a dream and my dream was not coming true and I turned inward.  I looked to myself in my utter failure in life. Suffering can do that you know.   Oh according to the world, I had it all, but contentment that God brings. I had no peace, joy or happiness though I tried so hard.   I prayed my prayers, studied my bible, went to church and knew nothing of the radical, unconditional love God had for me and how He would not let up until He knew I understood and received it.  I know it now even though some days I have to remember again, I am His and He loves me.   I am not without my struggles but I know the way back home with the help of my friends and the Spirit.

Don't get me wrong I need people and their love more so now than ever, but I can give and receive love because I have been given and received the love of God for me.  People do not give me my worth or define me but God does. I wish I had laughed more, danced more and sang more.  I wish I had rolled on the floor with my children and taken walks with my husband and even sat with him while he worked.  I still want to be a good Christian but I see it not as a list of rules to keep, music to listen to, prayers to be prayed, studies to be done but a continual relationship between me and God.  I rely on Him more and my success and failures less.  It is His perfect life and righteousness that defines me, that I live and enjoy and I know now He enjoys me.  I am in Him and He is in me.  I no longer live but Christ lives in me. But it is not thinking worse or more of myself but not turning inward and thinking of others and taking care of me so I can be there for others, spread the gospel and live this gift of life I have been given.

 We love because He first loved us.  I know how to love and not out of a lack, not out of an emptiness but out of a fullness.  I know how to enjoy life and live it, even if in small measures.  I know how to love God and let Him and others love me back.  Not to just give but to receive.  I have a taste of contentment in all circumstances because I have had a taste of heaven, Jesus in me and the love of the Father that won't let me go. My faith is in His love for me and for Jesus and not in mine or others.   I live more out of what He has done for me, than what I have to do to be a success at anything, to gain His approval or others approval of me.

 As I have said I have not arrived.  I just had some of the greatest struggles I have had in a long time, but each time there is a darkness or a struggle, it is like the stars shine brighter in the pit.  It is like the joy and life I know when I come out of it is greater than before.  He is bigger and mightier and more satisfying and powerful than I knew Him to be before.  Oh Lord my God, How Great Thou Arn't, I sang in a small church as a child.  It is now in the later years of life that I am getting a real taste of How Great God is and I haven't even begun to see Him as great as He is, but will continue to grow in my awareness throughout eternity with Him.  I see people for the beauty they have in them and not their flaws more and more.  Beauty they don't even see themselves. I pray let me see them with Your eyes and Your love.  Left to myself I can't do this.   I love to build others up and encourage them more now, than proving myself right. I love how He loves the lowly, the brokenhearted, those who have failed and maybe fail again and again, the suffering and the meek, those with a contrite heart and know their need for Jesus.  I love knowing and telling them of the hope they have in Him alone and being reminded myself by others.

How I long for that day.  Where there is complete rest and joy and peace and no more tears or sorrow or pain but delight in God and the saints who have gone before me, in heaven.  But until then I will grow to live this life in abundance, as much as I can and seek to know Him more and more. To be as real and honest with Him and others as my heart will let me.   I move a little bit closer to seeing Him face to face as I will on that great day.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done dear Lord, and I have no idea what that is for me or another person on any given day Lord, but you do.  Please make this my heart's cry.  Teach me to pray.

By the way...just signed up for bible study!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Listen for the Whisper of God

After spending several hours with the Lord this morning, listening, praying, thinking and meditating and reading and searching through scripture I think I know where my fears have come from.

Many years ago now I did a discipleship course.  In the course it said we all have two theologies, what we believe about God.  The one we have in our head, we are taught, and the one we have in our heart, the one we live by, out of.  They are not necessarily the same.  The goal is to get the right theology about our belief in God from the bible and in our head to our heart.  To determine what theology we are living out of and believing on a day in and day out basis.  This can take a lot of listening to your thoughts that come into your head and the way you behave, your fears.  What you spend the most time thinking about or even a fleeting thought that may shoot through your mind and you that from my heart or the world, flesh or evil?  Someone can help you find out your functional theology by asking good questions and listening to the things you say and you don't say.

We are warned many times over do not fear in scripture.  Fear is a sin of unbelief as is all sin.  It is not believing God is who scripture says He is, that He is good to me or that He loves me and is for me.  You can have mixed emotions and beliefs.  Lord I believe, help my unbelief.  What are you living out of?  How is God trying to strengthen and even maybe testing my faith?

Somehow in my way of thinking, which I didn't realize, I was believing if God is who He says He is and loves me why has my family had so much suffering all our lives.  Where was God?  If He is good and loves me where was He when all these bad things happened to us?  Was He with me?  I had no idea this was the basis of my fears but I do believe it was, thinking and pondering these things.  What evil meant for bad God meant for good.  The fiery darts were there and it was a testing of my faith.  A growing of it even.

As I respectfully told the Lord my doubts, asking Him to strengthen and grow my faith.  He is patient and good and kind with His children.  Verse after verse came to mind of how we were promised to not loose heart but join in the suffering of Christ. To take up our cross and follow Him.  The way of following Christ is through suffering.   How we will have tribulation and do not lose heart.  We were promised to suffer and to join Christ in His suffering to know Him.  That we will share in His glory one day and this present suffering is beyond comparison to the glory to be revealed. That nothing will separate us and He will never leave us.  That He walks with us through the valleys.  We are trophies of His grace Tim Keller said.  We will be on display for Heaven to see what Jesus has done for and in us.  It will be a great day.

There is no way for us to know the mind of God and why we suffer but some ways are known to us, for His glory, for the gospel, to depend and trust in Him and grow in faith, as a test of our faith, for our good.  We are told in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation but we will have peace and not to lose heart because Jesus has overcome the world.

My doctor said I was also getting better.  God uses the medicine for those who need it, counselor and doctor as well as His Word, friends the body of Christ and the most powerful Gospel.  Jesus is our hope and foundation.  God works it all for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and for His glory.  Our trust is in God alone.

When God breathes there is life, into dust, into dry bones, into His Word.  Jesus is the Word.  Gods Word is God breathed.  It has His life to give to us if we just believe it.  God loves us and chose us to be in His family and nothing can separate us from His love.  He is so for His children and is always working for their good, redeeming, changing into the likeness of His Son, until we see Him face to face.  In this world we will have suffering and God is with us as nothing can separate us from Him nor His love.  He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  Those who seek will find.  My heart began to sing the music of the gospel again and I worshiped with thanksgiving Gods mercy and goodness to me.  It all was so clear.  I may still struggle with a well mind and the thoughts but the fear is gone for now...So I listen for the whisper that I am His and that it is finished.