Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I've Said Too Much, God

I was skimming through some old journals tonight and ran across an entry from 2008 that caught my attention. Even though it was from six years ago, it could just as easily have been last week. Here's an excerpt:

"For the last several months, I have been in a battle spiritually.  I found myself in a hot, dry valley, and I was doggedly trudging around the same mountain....hey, didn’t I pass this way before?  Ever been there?  Ever found yourself trying to conquer something that you thought you had already beaten, only to find that you took a wrong turn somewhere, and now you are back there again?  And there it is, staring you in the face.  All the signs are there....the same fork in the road....same old barn on the right....same landmarks......yep, I recognize the scenery all right.  Hmmm....I think I’m lost.  I guess I’d better ask for directions.

That is where I discovered I was this morning.  I had utterly exhausted my own ways and resources.  I was completely spent when I went before the Lord this morning.  There was simply nothing left of me or my ways.  My logic and reasoning had brought me to a familiar place.  I had to admit that I had been going in circles."

Wow! That could have been yesterday!  For a minute I was discouraged, and I felt like maybe I'll never learn. Maybe I'll keep trudging around this mountain endlessly. But wait a minute; I have learned something in the past six years since I wrote this, and it brings me hope.

For one, I'm not depressed anymore.  I get down sometimes just like anyone else does, but it doesn't last. I am able to get up with God's help and go on.

Another improvement is my relationship with my best friend, Jesus. I depend on Him for everything.  I ask His help in every step. I openly admit to Him I could not take another step without Him.

He rushes to my rescue daily. DAILY. 

This revelation of who He is to me and how valuable He is to me came to me at a high price, through times of deep suffering over the years. With each new heartbreak, I honestly thought I would die, my heart was so broken; my spirit so crushed. 

But no. I didn't die. And as strange as it may sound, I am actually thankful for the times when I had a broken heart and crushed spirit.  Without the pain I would have never sought out a deeper relationship with my Savior.  I would have never been free of the bondage that had me bound then, but that I have been set free from forever. 

So in many ways, there is power in the pain; it leads us to Jesus.

Towards the end of the book of Job, after he and his friends have had so much to say about the whys and wherefores of why he was in the mess he was in, God steps in and has His say.  He spoke to Job out of the "eye of a violent storm" as it so eloquently declares in the Message translation of the Bible.  Sometimes, in the very middle of what we are going through, God will speak to us.  Maybe that is the only time He can get us still and quiet enough to hear His voice! 

God said to Job, toward the end of the book:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.  Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

"Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness?  For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ’This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’"

During the dark times, I have I found myself telling the Lord, as Job finally did, "I have said too much already, God.  I need to hear from YOU."  He is always faithful, and He does speak to me. 

I have heard Him say, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Who am I to question God?  Even in the way it is worded declares emphatically His intent:  surely.  He uses that twice to emphasize His meaning.  Without a doubt, He most certainly will help me, and He most certainly will help you, too.

He is reaching down with His righteous right hand even now. Reach back to Him and praise Him.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ready, Set, GO!

I've been doing homework tonight in preparation for class, since the professor for one of my classes emailed us a reading list and the assignment for tomorrow. I'm taking a short break and decided to write a short post. 

Tomorrow morning I will attend the first class of my last semester as an undergrad.  This is bittersweet to me. I love school, but even I will admit that I am ready to be finished with the bachelor degree.  I'm excited, apprehensive, and determined all at the same time.

I'm excited because the first day of school just does that to me.  I love learning and embarking on the adventure that comes with a new class with its uncharted territory.  New books, new notebooks, new pens, an unexplored syllabus--these things create a sense of enthusiasm in me like nothing else. Call me a nerd.  Go ahead, you know you want to!

I'm apprehensive, too, though.  After all, this is a senior level course that the instructor has told us can be thought of as on the level of a graduate seminar.  He suggested we might even be able to use our final paper as a writing sample, should we choose to go on to grad school.  So there's that. That part is a little intimidating.

Also, I know nothing about the other class, which will be in the afternoon. This one remains a mystery, which adds to the nerves.

However, there's also the determination I feel. This helps me to overcome the nervousness I experience at taking difficult courses.  I didn't come this far to back down now. I have two more classes to finish--TWO! Six credit hours of coursework to complete a degree I used to only dream of.  Oh yes, I am determined.  I am doing this!  I am excited and nervous, but I am up to the challenge.

So, tomorrow morning I will embark on the last leg of the journey. Sixteen weeks from now, I will be finished, and will walk across the stage in December to accept my diploma.  

Ready or not, here I come!    

"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4 NASB

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's Only Thunder

Yesterday afternoon, a summer thunderstorm came barreling through and demanded my attention.  As usual when it rains, I have to watch even if it's only briefly. I don't have a window at all in my office, so I usually go and stand by the window for a minute when it storms while I'm at work. This one was on Saturday, though, and I could watch as long as I wanted.  I stopped what I was doing and went and laid down on my bed so I could enjoy the show.

It was quite an impressive little thunderstorm.  It boasted a little wind, though not too much, heavy rain, and a LOT of thunder and lightning. My cat was under the bed from the first rumble of thunder. She is terrified of loud noises, and of course, being a cat can't comprehend that this loud noise is not going to hurt her. I didn't see her again for a couple of hours.

That's kind of how we react sometimes, though, isn't it? Some kind of "noise" happens, and we run and hide. Earlier in my walk with Christ, I allowed the enemy to scare me off at the slightest sound. He would say things like:

"You will never overcome your past." I believed him. I considered myself to be unfit to do any real good because I had "failed" at marriage. I hid in the shadows of being divorced, convinced I was a second-class Christian that God had forgiven, but would never use.

"You are too broke to buy your own house." This lie held me captive for a long time; twelve years in fact.  I lived in an apartment for all those years because I was convinced I couldn't possibly buy a house of my own.

"You will never finish college. You should have gone when you were young; it's too late now." This one almost had me, and I started and stopped college classes several times over the years.  The God-given dream was alive inside me, but the noise of the enemy caused me to hide out under the pretense that I was too old and not smart enough to ever finish.

I set limitations on myself for years because of these lies.They were like thunder, only making noise to scare me, but never really being able to harm me. The enemy in his craftiness will say things like this, hoping that a well-placed lie here and there will cause Christians to hurt themselves.  I admit, I fell for them for a long time. I endured a lot of pain and heartbreak for years; not because of the lies, but because of how I reacted to the lies.

I still fall victim to a "rumble of thunder" from the enemy once in a while, but I'm getting better able to discern when I'm hearing a lie. With God's help, I have, and continue to overcome my past. I did buy a house of my own.  And I AM finishing college! This December, just hide and watch while I march onto that stage for my diploma.

Today is August 10, and my summer has slipped away.  Tomorrow the teachers return, which always makes for a busy week for me.  Next Monday, school starts, the kids will be back, and it's back to the school-year routine.

The next day, August 19, is the first day of my last two classes.  I'm ready.  I have that nervous-but-excited feeling I always get when starting new classes.  I love school; I'm sure I always will.

I thought I heard a sound earlier, something about how hard it will be to juggle work and classes again for the next four months. But then I realized it was nothing to worry about. It was only thunder.

"Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  1John 4:4 NASB