I’ve been focusing a lot lately on getting ready for our upcoming move in April. It’s the perfect time to clean out all the clutter that we’ve been hanging on to over the last 11 years. I’m not a pack-rat, so this process is relatively easy for me. I’m just surprised at the amount of things that we’ve held onto. It feels very freeing letting go of old junk that contained just a hint of sentimental value but had no real purpose or beauty . Or the old pot that I’ve been swearing I was going to need someday but never have. It’s amazing what you don’t realize you have been keeping in boxes that never get opened. It’s funny to think that I’ve been moving trash from house to house for years and years when I could have just lightened the load a long time ago. All this was a very visual reminder of the secret rooms we hide in our souls that God must go through looking for the trash we don’t want to part with in our minds, and how the word of God carefully sorts through each and every dusty “box” slowly over time as we take in the mind of Christ day by day. It’s nice to know the Holy Spirit is doing all the heavy lifting of renewing our minds! This also makes me think of “Buy truth and sell it not” How much of my time and money was spent on things that were ultimately useless and needed to be thrown out? In the same way, we do that with our thinking as we go through the day. We pick up mental trash with our time in the cosmic system and each day in Bible class the word of God pinpoints it and throws it back out.
Another aspect I see is how we get rid of the stuff that weighs us down so that we can make room for valuable useful items that will be needed in the future. That makes a great analogy too. We need spiritual capacity for spiritual treasure.
We had a lesson this week that helped open my eyes more clearly to the purpose of this life or more exactly what isn’t the purpose of this life.
I am admittedly a romantic. I’ve always held onto this desire for a certain kind of lifestyle. For some it might be living in an urban setting or fulfilling a certain dream of their own but for me, it’s always been the tranquil country life with rolling green hills, farm animals and the old country house with the fireplace and the warm quilts, cozy kitchen and the soft loving cat. Well, while there is nothing wrong with my desires they have nothing to do with God’s plan for my life. As a military wife it’s my job to be ready to move when-ever or where-ever the Air Force sends us. This means not getting settled in one place, this means, that particular dream is not a part of God’s plan for my life at this time.
In class, when Pastor was teaching about our lives being patterned after The Lord Jesus Christ’s on earth, and the fact that He always knew and welcomed that the Father’s plan was the Cross and never tried to live in any other plan during his life on earth, something clicked! The Lord knew that a crown was His destiny but in order to receive the crown, He had to fulfill the Cross(The Father’s particular plan for His humanity). I have also been promised a crown and a destiny that is wrapped up in His and I have also been given now and in the future, my own set of circumstances which constitute the fulfilling of a “cross” in my lifetime. How can death bring life? How does disaster bring prosperity? In God’s plan everything is opposite. It really truly is. Suffering and happiness are inseparable on earth. Without the Cross Jesus Christ’s crown would have ended when He died and all that we could hope for would be bottled up in life on this planet. Because He endured the Cross and did it the Father’s way, He gets a crown that lasts forever and we get eternity.
The world tells us to hold onto our dreams and reach for them relentlessly The Lord was also offered the world and all it’s kingdoms by Satan as a temptation to abandon the plan of the Cross. The insidious thing about the world is that the system knows what it offers has no lasting value, it’s empty and will leave you wanting more. God offers you His plan which guarantees contentment and satisfaction but it also includes a measure of the “cross” individually tailored with suffering that brings blessing and it doesn’t make sense if you don’t understand what it’s all about. The perfect loving God with a plan to give you all that He is.
What I’m getting at is, that I don’t want to miss out on fulfilling the purpose of my life in exchange for green pastures and chickens. I can now see why those things, pleasant as they are in my mind, don’t compare to my life as it is now(I already have an amazing and challenging life) and what I have the opportunity to live in. It would be wise to put those fantasies in God’s hands and let them go. He loves me and always gives me His highest and best in all circumstances.
It appears that another military move may be on the horizon. This knowledge of impending change brought about a very familiar cycle of thoughts and feelings. Where will we go? How long will this take? What does the future hold? After the questions, in come the secret hopes and desires. Since we get to list our most desired places to be stationed I get very fixated on hoping for those destinations and fantasizing about what it would be like to live ____ or ____. Then shortly after that first brush of excitement. The fear starts nagging, the feelings of uncertainty and worry that we won’t get what we want that we won’t be happy. And thus starts a cycle of stress and distress. I’ve decided this isn’t necessary. Really, Go figure!
While listening to my lesson tonight. Pastor was talking about laying aside our will for God’s. It sort of hit me right there that my main source of stress in each of our moving experiences was my desire to have things the way I want. If I laid aside the desire for any specific outcome and instead focused on being excited for what God has already chosen, I might go into this whole thing with stability instead of fear. I’ve decided I don’t “want” any particular outcome no dream destinations or care over when it happens. I “want” to ride this one out with the Lord. I’ve seen enough to know that He has carefully planned everything and never left me or failed me. I don’t want my plan this time. I want His.
So, I’m VERY excited! I’m going to be where the Lord sends me. It’s never where I expect and always full of challenges. All my roads lead to eternity with God anyway.
I’ll keep you posted,
I really needed the lesson we had tonight in Bible class. It is titled “Anyone Who Comes To Christ Will Certainly Not Be Cast Out”. Today was another day where I was guilty of one of the failures I find most horrid and shameful in my relationship with God. I couldn’t seem to help thinking of the verses that would condemn such actions and it brought me pretty low. I also tried with all my might to rebound and apply the doctrines I know so well and it was a struggle. It was a struggle because the guilt would come at me again and again and the doubt that God could really feel the same about me after I had displayed such weakness (especially toward Him). Lucky for me this was the topic I was already going to talk about. You see, this has been coming at me in several different forms over the last couple of weeks. If it’s not one horrible failure it’s another, and not the usual ones or the more “moral” issues, it’s the sins I fear the most. The ones that relate directly to my relationship with God and causing me to question if it is really even possible that I am a believer going forward. How can one such as me, weak and untrusting, positively reckless in my capacity for evil, be special to God, beloved and encouraged to go forward? Under my recent state of mind, in the more low moments I wonder if there is any reward left to receive.
Despite these feelings, I am convinced that this is a very important stage in the Christian way of life. It’s not just some attack by evil forces to get me discouraged. I think it’s a training zone that all must pass through. It is in this place that only failure can give me confidence. Sure, I am quite confident in my standing with God just so long as I haven’t had a noticeable failure but as soon as I mess up big time I have no confidence in my standing with God until the sting fades. I have always heard the phrase “being right with God” and automatically put emphasis on self. I think to myself, I must stay right with God to have a good relationship with God so that must mean I have to please Him with my behavior and unwavering faith to have continuing fellowship and have Him be proud of me as His child. Only under those terms, God would have to chuck me, because I continually fail and He would have to be proud of me and then disappointed and finally just give up when I’ve finally done something bad enough. These thoughts are anti-doctrine, anti-grace and spiritual insanity!
The confident believer is confident not in their relationship with God but with God’s relationship with them. When God called me beloved and approved He based it on His faithfulness and love, His Justice that is already satisfied at the cross. My spiritual inadequacies, failures, sins whatever… were taken out of the way long before I was born. Just as God is free to give me eternal life because of the cross, He is also free to maintain an unchanging relationship towards me based solely on His own performance, that of Jesus Christ. Even when He needs to discipline, He isn’t disappointed in me. He is maturing me, propelling me forward in love. He just waits patiently till I’m willing to accept the grace for the worst of me and the hopelessness of my ability to put myself in good relationship with Him. It takes rebound(1John1:9) in the face of guilt and for guilt, especially for the guilt. The self thrashing and guilt is the greatest barrier to getting back in fellowship. At some point, one I think I’m closer to, that jump back into fellowship and confidence in God’s approval of me will be like breathing.
And, if I’m ever going to be effective in spiritual battle and perseverance I can’t be without confidence. That is what this training ground is for. If I can maintain great confidence in the face of shattering failure. I will be ready for what God wants to bring in my life. He can’t put me in battles I am not ready for. Great spiritual battles contain great failure and without the ability to know exactly what God is thinking of me, without absolute confidence in God’s relationship with me, I can’t fight. He wants me to be in the game so I can share in His victory. He suffered unimaginably to give this worthless creature all the blessings for time and eternity that He has prepared. Everything about me that goes on into eternity is part of Him. It’s His eternal life I’m going to live, His blessings, His righteousness.
Thank You Lord.
God isn’t waiting for me to “get it all together” His plan goes on whether I’m having a good day or a bad one. His grace is always available and He is aware that I am but dust. He doesn’t disapprove of me on my less than stellar days and approve of me more on the days I succeed. God is at rest with me. I need to quiet my desire to always feel like a “good little girl” and chastise myself for all my insufficiency and instead get inside that rest God has with me. Tomorrow is another day to go forward. Today is done. Eternity awaits. Perfect righteousness is mine and that is a fact I need to live in. The flesh and it’s failures are only temporary. Lay them aside and press on.
Insecurity is a beast.
I’ve often said that people make me nervous. I’ve complained about the problems I’ve faced with certain individuals in my life. It’s always been about how they were mean or difficult how they’ve made me uncomfortable but after the last several lessons and a current situation, I’ve come to see that all the people problems I have ever faced have really stemmed from my own insecurity. The Lord has used this opportunity to point out to me how very insecure I really am. I can no longer blame others for the discomfort or hurt feelings. When a person is really secure in their relationship with God and with who they are right now, the opinions of others about them or the comments they make mean nothing. I’ve gone into so many situations relying on my personality to gain approval with people and when that has failed or was rejected you can bet it really hurt. Over time I’ve just fed that insecurity towards people with human ability and human effort gaining nothing but more insecurity. I’ve relied so heavily on human approval for good feelings and a sense of worth in a crowd that I would leave a social situation either very pumped up or very shattered. I have no courage in the face of disapproval. So, if I knew a situation was coming where I was guaranteed to face disapproval by someone who consistently doesn’t really like me, I faced major anxiety. This issue has left me perplexed and distressed for years. I saw no way out and honestly I didn’t see where the error truly was. Someone might have said to me “who cares what so and so says” and it sure sounded good but faced with the pressure, in the end, it really did matter. In that state of mind there was really no cure.
Here I was, this weekend, faced with the exact situation I was describing and the Lord was bringing me all these lessons in advance about how the problems we face with people aren’t really about them it’s about us. Lessons about not judging about seeing yourself honestly. I took a long look at myself and saw that all the evil things I accused my feared adversary of, were things I do myself but only I do them in hiding. I saw myself as better than them. I was the innocent lamb and they were the wicked wolf. This person I feared had become a monster in my mind. What I came to see was that I wanted to punish them for making me feel bad when in reality I was blaming them for insecurities I wouldn’t take responsibility for. Instead of facing the challenge of overcoming insecurity and taking responsibility for my own motivations, I put all the blame on them. My trust was never in the Lord in these situations, not really. I wasn’t the tree planted by streams of water. I was a bean sprouted in a jar on the windowsill. I looked strong but I was destined for failure until I found the right source for stability.
It took one good long day of failure, trying so hard to be winning in my personality, to be cheerful, to feel good about myself. It all failed as usual. I’m not exactly sure what piece of doctrine made the switch. I was so afraid I’d fail this weekend and I did. Over the course of at least 4 lessons culminating in one fantastic lesson this morning the truth sort of blossomed. Wrong source, wrong result. And yet I prayed many times for rescue in the past with no result. God didn’t want to have to rescue me. He wanted me to trust the Word and let it rescue me. I almost feel like shackles have fallen off. I heard one nasty comment this afternoon and I just quietly removed myself from the situation, only I found that I didn’t feel anything about it. I wasn’t mad, I didn’t put it in my list of hurts or wrestle with resentment. I was free not to care.
I’m not going to be cured overnight. It was one small step today but I think this is giant leap in the right direction and in my personal relationship with the Lord.