Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Looking Back on Going Forward

Life goes forward and then seems to turn us around and we take the same steps, maybe a little wiser, but sometimes even more challenging. Does this ever happen to you?


Lately, it seems, everyday is a struggle.  It has also been great joy in meeting new friends and being with old ones and my family.  I have ask friends, had talks, read articles, sermons and blogs...why do I continue to struggle?  I love Jesus, Father, Spirit.  They are an essential part of my everyday life.  I truly can't function without God.

The world and even the church says to be mentally ill, is because of sin.  

It appears they are saying, you struggle because you do not have Jesus.  Just have more faith and you will not struggle.  Having a brain disorder is not a prestigious thing.  There are stigmas.  People are afraid of what they do not understand.  They also tend toward quick fixes and pat answers.  Our lives are to never be minimized or limited as such.

The brain is an organ, just like any other organ in the body...It can be sick.  When this happens things happen to your thinking.  (Am I defending myself here?  Maybe so.)  You have fears, like the average person but, they are not so average in that, they are bigger than normal and can be all consuming.  So grand are any possibly positive, but also negative thoughts.  The negative affects them, in a most negative way. The unmerciful, intense, sometimes untrue thoughts can be debilitating and extremely painful.  To keep them inside, unshared,  is self destructive.  The person is usually left without hope and truth within themselves.  They are helpless and desperately alone in their madness.  They are whipped, tortured with the thoughts that hold them prisoner, until God intervenes by His Spirit or by another person, in some way,  actually sets them free.  If the person has the truth to these lies within them, by reality and Gods word, they may discipline themselves to redirect their thoughts by these truths or by activity.  The activity gives the brain relief and they can sometimes begin to rethink more clearly.  If they do not have truth, more than likely the fears will reoccur, only to take them captive once again.  Mental illness is a disease, like high blood pressure or diabetes.  One in four of us struggle with some form of the disease.  It cannot be ignored.  Either we have it or someone we know and love does.  It affects us all to some degree.

It may sound like a contradiction to say, my faith has grown more in my sickness than in my health.  

I had many fears and struggles when I was healthy minded, but was unaware of many of them. My mental weakness has actually helped me beyond what I could have ever gotten otherwise.  I am such a determined, self willed person, without Jesus grace to see in my heart.   I have been trying, not to let my emotions control me, but to go about where Jesus leads me.  I thought through doing this,  things would get easier, but it hasn't.  But to imply, that the christian with struggles mentally, has more sin or  lack of faith in Christ, than every other christian, is unfair and untrue and shuts them down and of from one of the very things, that could help them in their struggle.  That being in an honest and caring relationship with them.  Bringing Jesus into the struggles of their heart, that we all have, letting them know their true identity in Christ.  Their false identity is so enlarged in their hearts.  We are all on this path of faith to fear to faith until we have a full glimpse into His face.  Today, may we see Him more clearly that yesterday.

I sat in my car yesterday, waiting on a friend to have lunch.  "Are you there," she called out.  I was praying.  Lord, do not let me envy.  Do not let me be jealous, especially of the ones I love.  Of the life they have.  Feeling sorry for myself was not too far in the distance, lurking just outside my heart.  Why can't I confess my fear, trust God and then move on and have this wonderful life of joy and peace and thanksgiving.  To be content in Christ and not struggle.  I want to be a witness that does not struggle. Lord may I see the blessings you have for me in this life of mine, even in suffering, doubt and struggle.  I want to see your glory God.

I can't dismiss it, why do I struggle?   Jesus ask Peter, do you love me Peter?  Jesus ask him three times.  Peter replied, yes Lord, you know I love you.  Peter had just denied Jesus three times.  Jesus was restoring Peter.  He was offering the rescue.  Feed my sheep, Jesus said.  Then Jesus continued you will be led a way, you do not want to go Peter, in your death.  Peter ask Jesus about John.  Jesus said, what business is it of you Peter, what I do with John.  Follow me.  Jesus had just told Peter how he would glorify God in being crucified upside down.

We each are individual...
We each have a unique personality, gifts and weakness and strengths
We each have a will and a mind that is our own
We each have a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord, who are His
We each are told to not ask for suffering, but are told we will suffer in this life
We each have a separate journey, a special story, all our own to share Gods faithfulness and greatness
We each reflect His glory in different ways
We each reflect the person of Christ in different and beautiful ways

I don't know the life God is calling you to, how He will work in you to bring you to dependence on Him or to manifest His power in you.  I don't know.  I know for me, yesterday I struggled, I prayed and He rescued me, as He has over and over again.  I ask myself, if I didn't know the struggle, would I know and experience the divine rescue?

Today the fears are gone...I have a greater awareness of Gods control and His love for me and goodness that I did yesterday, of who I really am...a child of God.

I want to leave you with these verses to think upon, to reflect and mediate on today.  2 Cor. 4:7-12 tells us that we have these treasures in jars of clay.  That we are hard pressed, but not crushed.  To show that the all surpassing power is in Christ, not in ourselves.  God is not calling us to greatness but  reflect His greatness.  Not to our power, but to His.  Not our plans but His will.  Not to trust in ourselves, but a child like faith, in weakness, in our Father.   I pray we are not to be determined or defined by fear.  He longs to meet us in the eclipse of the struggle, in the paradox of resting in Him, in the midst of it all.

I have this picture in my mind, of a little fearful sheep, that has lost his way, not realizing the Good Shepherd was there all along.  I see the sheep being rescued and resting in the arms, of his Shepard.  The Shepard caring him along the path to green pastures, in places he is too afraid to go on his own.  Holding the little lamb, tight and secure to His chest and in His arms whispering, I am here...you are going to be fine.  You are mine.  I have found you now.  You are ok.  You are ok.  Just fold yourself into my arms.  We will go together.  The little lamb, looks into the eyes of the gentle Shepherd and His heart calms, his fears are mellowed in, into the embrace of his keeper's arms, as his eyes are washed by His keepers tears.  He presses in and is safe and secure once more.