I have recently had that fear that I will be the person that walks away after years of ministry if I neglect my walk. Whether these are fears planted in me by dark principalities of God yearning me into action I have responded by making my personal time with God an end of the day must. The reason Day 16 is public and not in my journal is simple. I forgot my journal and I am not starting over again. That would be disheartening. My devotion’s will be of a less intimate nature today as well so don’t judge them because this is not normal.
Because C.S. Lewis died 50 years ago (Same as JFK) almost today I will open my devotions with a C.S. Lewis quote: Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
Today I praise God for His faithfulness. I registered for my last semester of college today. I can’t imagine what I was thinking for my first semester. I bet I was filled with a different kind of fear (I bet I also still wore clothes from the nineties, yuck). But I remember being excited with no clue how God would test my determination. Now I have been well tested and I hope that I have pleased my Father. I know that He is trustworthy and good and does not see me as unable to be firm in my faith. What He did with Paul, Moses, Peter, David and every other character from the Bible He is doing with me.
Never has my God left or failed me. Never have I been more okay with being terrified. In His testing of me I have found Him in countless storms and in finding me He has passed all my test. So tonight is a night to reflect on the people who helped me get through and encouraged me and are still here. God surely arranged for the perfect people to be at Grace University to build me up.
Thank you for my roots, thank you for Your plan. Whatever it is. Thank you that Your ways are not my own and that You will always be praiseworthy. Thank you that Grace did not make me into a wiser devil but while giving me my education surrounded me with people and choices that ind-welled Your values in me.
I know you look at my heart God and I confess that there is work to do. But you are getting me there.
Lost in The found,
Built my own crown.
Ruled my own mound.
Thought that I’d drown.
Then look what I found.
My solid ground.
I think fall is Leafing…. bye bye.
Sometimes I reflect on how terrible I am. I think that if someone was in danger of others in front of me I would stay silent. That I could kill or steal and it would bring me joy beyond the peace I find in Christ. That God will throw me into the flames personally and I will only feel content. I will despise Him.
A cold splash of water can vanquish these fears for a bit. I just have to be careful to not look at the mirror. The mirror can be cruel. Even if I am not hearing the voice of my insecurities I hear other voices calling me prideful and evil. Even if I look in the mirror and like my dark hair and wide eyes there is fear to hate. Fear I am not really a Christian. That I am faking it and I feel sorry for myself.
“Poor girl thinks she is saved” the mirror will say “the only thing Christian about you is your jewelry.” This is the thought that makes the tide roll in. A firm answer much deeper than the fear can answer “I am saved”. My shaky mean thoughts are crushed under this hiss. I AM SAVED. But this leads to more questions. Why do I worry and why do I still want to run away and indulge every desire. Why do I want to know how bad I can be?
Then as these grow more frequent and I start listening to something I normally despise. I listen to K-LOVE in my car. The corny and sometimes forced lyrics keep me company as I come and go. I realize that I am holding on. My job demands Sunday mornings and though my friends outside of college care for me they do not pray or encourage me the way I need.
It is my own fault. I could reach out to my God in solitude. But how do you speak to someone whom you used to be so close to but have not contacted in so long. You know you will have to apologize and admit you have been bad and that makes you feel…. stuck. Admitting you are wrong is a hard solution. So the slip goes on. The stretch of silence grows. It reminds me of UnderOath lyrics: I took you nowhere, I gave you nothing…. you;re still listening.
I can feel Him listening but I am saying nothing because I am afraid of how pathetic I am. The depression kicks up. You can’t leave bed. That deep joy is just a flicker. You are worn out, worn thin and you keep K-Love playing in the car. You want to cry but you can’t. You know this downward spiral. You are also overwhelmed. You are sick of people. So you misplace your cell phone a lot. Because you are neglecting the one relationship that allows you to truly love others. So you don’t want others around.
And yes… the depression takes root. But do you know what? Even if there is no one speaking truth to you, no fellowship, no church and heavens to Luthern… NO COMMUNION I have the radio. So when I found tears rush to my face when my broken confirmation necklace last week and my soul crushed I had sudden clarity on why I was experiencing so much pain, loss, fear, anxiety and sadness all rumbling like a wave trying to break out of a small box in my chest. I was neglecting the most important person in my life. Me. With sudden clarity I realized the only thing connecting me to God was my necklace and the radio and half that connection was in my fist broken.
I am not sure why I always start with you and end up using me. I think it is because it takes me a moment to admit this blog is about my struggles. But the reason I am neglecting me is because I am neglecting the only thing that matters. The Father. Without him I slip back to who I was. Unsaved, lost, thirsty to disobey and afraid. I taste it every summer when I go at my faith alone. Each year should be the year that on my own I will do just fine. This still was not my year, But this year I turned on K-LOVE. This year I fought back. Maybe next year I will thrive because I know He is listening and I am starting to talk more and do you know what? It is still summer and I am coming through fighting.
Those fears, that person in the mirror my desire to run to sin are symptoms of my failure to communicate with the Father. So I AM starting that dialogue up again. Starting with how sorry I am that I was too ashamed to admit my failure. That I am so grateful that He is still listening and that my life has proven time and time again that He is the only thing that keeps me going. The only thing I have of value that is mine to keep. He is the only strength I live by and without Him I fall apart. That sin is crouching on my door and it seeks to destroy me and without Him it is a loosing battle. That He is the light of my life and I will take His hand. And if the most I can manage is to turn on the radio then help me to do more. Because I want so much more.
Pain is real and it matters. Emotional, physical and spiritual. It’s haunting and daunting. But it is not bad. It’s testing but we are made to be tested. We hold out.. unless we don’t. In fact each time we encounter pain we don’t necessarily get better at overcoming it. Each new pain is unique.
So how do I win? By laughing at it. By overcoming by realizing it is not permanent. By going on. I do not resent pain, I do not enjoy it. It reminds me about what Sally Sparrow said in Blink “Saddness is happy for deep people.” Pain is deep but if you are wise you will understand it’s worth.