Monday, August 29, 2016

Are the Crickets Chirping?

Tonight, I find myself meditating on Psalm 40, verses 1-3:

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." 

Really? You might be thinking that you seem to still be stuck and nothing seems to have changed when you cried out to the Lord.

Basically, it's crickets chirping. 

If you don't get that, I'm sorry. Truly. 

Well, the reasons for His silence are numerous, and none of us knows the mind of God and can figure out the exact plans He has for us. When we cry out to God, we don't understand why He doesn't drop everything and deliver us from the mess we're in. Does He not care about our dilemma?

Yes. Yes, He does. It's entirely possible that it's because He cares that He seems to delay so long to rescue us. I believe that while He does forgive our sins immediately when we ask Him to, sometimes the circumstances in which we find ourselves don't change right away. 

Maybe He is taking time to set up the new place in life where He wants us.

Perhaps He wants us to get closer to Him and He uses our painful situation to refine us a little.

Quite possibly, if we had exactly what we want when we think we need it, we would destroy ourselves. 

Don't say it can't happen. We do that, you know. All the time. At least, I know I have. Years ago, my life was a complete shambles and at times didn't think I would make it.  

If we take matters into our own hands instead of waiting for God to work out and orchestrate the details of our lives, eventually we can find ourselves in a real mess. We have to learn to wait on His timing, His plan, His way. He really does know what's best for us. 

After a while, when we wait on Him, we find ourselves saying

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

Wow! One day, we look around us and find ourselves out of the pit we were in. How did we get here? Without really knowing the details of how it happened, when we wait on God and continue to climb and follow where He leads we find ourselves proclaiming

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him."

When we give ourselves fully to God's ways and plans, He will bring us out and our lives will become a testimony to His goodness, grace, and mercy.

This may or may not be the most encouraging post I have ever written, but I believe it's truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it also heals.

So, be blessed. God loves you and wants you to be all that He created you to be. Let Him lead and you won't be sorry.

That's all tonight, folks. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Someone told me a few weeks ago that they had no idea I had ever been depressed. They have only known me a few years, and it was surprising to them to learn about what I have been through.  It encourages me to hear that, because it's a testimony to the amazing work God has done and is still doing in me. I never want anyone to think I take credit for turning my life around. God gets all the glory for that! If not for Him and His miraculous hand in my life, I have no doubt I would not have made it.

Spiritually, the depression I was in made me feel like I was wandering in the wilderness, and everything was shrouded in fog. I couldn't see which way to go, and I ended up clinging to the people who tried to help me out of kindness and love. I needed to know I was loved and accepted so badly. I was desperate for it.

One of the most painful parts of the wilderness was the way that the songs I listened to and loved during that time became associated with pain. Maybe this doesn't happen to you; I hope not. But so much of the way God speaks to me and ministers to me is through music.

For several years before, during, and following my divorce in 1997, I wandered. I had accepted Jesus, and was following Him but I didn't really know how to accept the healing He wanted to give me. There was a lot of rejection and loneliness in those days, and my solace was music. Friends gave me CDs and I would listen to them over and over.

A lot of negative stuff happened during these years, including drama involving people, churches, and even some family members. Some of it was real rejection, and some was only perceived to be rejection because of the tormenting pain in my heart that distorted the truth. In 2003 I hit rock bottom and God finally had my full attention--because He was all I had left. This was one of the best things that could have happened, though I thought it was going to kill me at the time. I did not want to be in this pain, and I fought it. I finally took the hand He had been offering me for so many years, though, and let Him pull me up out of the pit I was in emotionally.

The healing started that year, but because my emotions were such a wreck, or the depression so deep--who knows?--it took a while for God to bring me out of all that. Slowly, I started to change from the inside out, but I still had a ways to go.

The music? Oh, I'm getting there. In the years following the wilderness time, I discovered that when I heard any of that music from those years I would be repulsed by it. Sometimes I would even have physical pain, like a knife in my stomach. It was such a powerful reminder of those horrible years. You see, it wasn't just me that was being hurt while I was in the wilderness. I did my share of hurling damaging words at people I loved, and it broke my heart that I had wounded the ones I loved the most. I quit writing for a long time because I had used my gift of writing to hurt others, even though that wasn't my intention at the time.

Over time, the music I had listened to became synonymous with pain. Music God intended to be healing and soothing became a painful reminder of where I had been, whom I had hurt, and the shame I bore because of it.

Years went by; I gained victory over some things but not others and went through some ups and downs. Then God started some purifying in me - known in Christian circles as a refining fire - beginning in early 2011 and again I was broken-hearted. Unlike the time before, though, I knew what He was doing and why. So even though I was broken, and it was painful, I embraced it. I knew it had to be this way, that He was ready to deliver me from the bondage and chains of depression, rejection, and need for affirmation from others. I wanted God to heal me and I gave myself over to Him willingly. At this point, 
I finally started going for counseling.

Let me just say right here that there is no shame in getting counseling if you need it. Christians can have depression, anxiety, and a lot of other problems that sometimes require counseling to work through. I sought out Christian counselors who both counseled and prayed with me. If you need counseling, I strongly urge you to get it.

Finally, I had a major breakthrough in 2012, and soon after became aware that things were different. I felt different, my outlook was different, my relationships were different. I realized that I was not the same person as I had been. I had come to know Jesus in a much deeper way, and I realized that my identity was in Him. He was the Lord of my life and He supplied my every need. Affirmation came from Him and His word. It was amazing when I finally grasped that.

But even though I was walking free from those chains, the music I had loved still hurt. I decided that maybe I would always have to avoid those artists and songs from that era, but at least I was free. But God had another plan.

The music came back to me in an unusual way. One of the most enjoyable things I have done in the last year is reorganize photo albums from way before my time through my high school graduation. As I blogged in another post, major chains fell off spiritually during this process:


As I said in that other post, not only did God redeem my past in photos, I was led to listen to all the old, painful music. Gospel music from my teen years came back first. I found myself singing a song from long ago and would have to find it and listen to it. Then, one day out of the blue, the music from the painful wilderness years was finally given back to me. All while I was working on the photos. He gave me back the music I had loved, because He delights in me. 

Today, I can truly say that God has restored what the locusts had eaten. I'm still a work in progress, but I can listen to all that great music again! The root of rejection has been removed once and for all. Praise the Lord! It was hard to allow Him to do what He needed to do to heal me and set me free, but SO WORTH IT!

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you." Joel 2:25 NLT