Can I ask you a question?
"Is God all He says He is?"
If you're anything like me, a home-grown church kid, that question is pretty easy. "Yeah of course, He's GOD!". That's what we're suppose to say right?
Ok, so can I ask you another question then?
"Do you believe you are the amazing person you say you are?"
(Think about that real hard before you answer)
What if I told you that the answer you gave for the first question affects the way you answer the second? You're probably confused so let me explain myself.
Lots of times the way we view GOD can affect the way we view ourselves. If we believe GOD is an awesome being Who created all things and called them good (Genesis 1:31), then we'll believe that we are HIS good creations because HE made all things "good". But if we don't believe that GOD makes things "good" then we'll view ourselves as a mistake.
About a year ago, GOD started bringing to my attention a lie I had believed about myself my whole life. It's the one statement that almost all my insecurities hang on. The lie was:
"I am GOD's one exception"
I knew GOD was an amazing God who created all things good and that HE loved us beyond measure. But for some reason I believed that HE made an exception when it came to me.
GOD loves everyone unconditionally but me
GOD forgives everyone but me
GOD has a purpose for everyone but me
Do you see a pattern here? And the sad thing was, I lived it out! I would tell people all the time that GOD loves them and has a purpose for their life, all the while silently adding to myself "everyone but me that is".
One day, I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I remember GOD spoke to me and said:
"Susan, if you believe that you are MY one exception in life, then you believe I have contradicted MY Word."
In The Bible in the book of John, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 emphasis added are mine). Jesus said GOD loved the whole world. Not just parts of it, not just a certain select few, the WHOLE WORLD. He also goes on to say that "The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Ben-Elohim [Hebrew for Son of God]." (vs 18 brackets are mine)
GOD revealed to me that when I believed that I was HIS one exception, in reality I was believing that GOD repudiated what HE said in the Bible. If I was going to preach to others that GOD loved them and that GOD had a plan for their life, I had to believe the same thing in regards to myself and stop condemning myself when HE already loves and forgave me.
I'm telling you this because ever since that moment I have discovered that all my insecurities are secret lies about GOD that the Devil has told me. When I stopped trying to fix myself with all the "self-help" rules I had learned, I began to see that all this was truly about GOD and HIS image, not mine.
Think about it, Who is the Devil's enemy?
Who is GOD's beloved?
If you had an enemy and you wanted to destroy them, you could do it one of two ways:
Attack them directly,
attack the things/people they love.
The devil can not directly attack GOD. HE is The Almighty and has already beat the devil in the ultimate battle against death (John 12:31-33) . So instead he'll attack those GOD loves because by causing us pain, he causes GOD's heart to break (Isaiah 63:9). He does this in many ways but one way is by telling us lies about ourselves which cause us to unconsciously doubt aspects about GOD, in turn, causing us to not believe HIM and ultimately turn away from HIM. Think about some of the lies we believe about ourselves and how they affect our thinking of Who GOD is:
I am not loved. GOD doesn't love.
I am useless. GOD makes useless things.
I am ugly. If we are made in HIS image, then GOD must be ugly.
Now, I am not saying that you are irrelevant and that your insecurities have nothing to do with you. Your fears and insecurities are very real and important to you and how you walk through life. I'm just suggesting that we're looking at this all wrong. Instead of focusing on how we feel, we should be asking ourselves "what is the ultimate battle here?"
So here's what I propose: pray that GOD would reveal to you one of the insecurities you have and ask HIM to reveal to you what that lie says about HIMSELF. Even if you feel like you don't have any insecurities, you still may be believing a lie about GOD that you don't realize you believe. It will be scary, asking GOD to reveal the truth about HIMSELF, maybe a truth you don't even realize. Believe me I know! But at the same time, when GOD reveals Who HE really and truly is, lives are changed and the devil flees (James 4:1-10)! Try it, and see what happens. Here are some suggestions on ways you can do that:
Spend time listening
Pray and ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF to you and then spend some time just listening. The Bible says that those who wait on The LORD will not be ashamed (Psalms 25). It will be a challenge, quieting your mind, but it will be rewarding.
Be alert and patient
GOD will answer you in HIS timing. It may not be immediate but it may be. GOD is not a god to be controlled or swayed. He will answer you in the way and time HE wants to answer you in. This may mean waiting a little bit so you can get to a point where you are truly listening, or so HE can answer you in a way that you'll know it was HIM speaking to you. Just be alert and patient. HE will answer if you're truly seeking (Deuteronomy 4:29). Which brings me to my next suggestion:
Don't expect a certain answer to be delivered a certain way
GOD does not always answer us in a booming voice from the heavens. Sometimes HE allows other things or people to speak for HIM. I remember one time GOD revealed a lie I had been believing by letting me literally speak it out loud! I was talking with a friend (and by talking, I mean I was talking she was simply listening not saying a word) and before I even knew what I was saying I heard myself say the lie I had believed and why I had even believed it! So don't expect an answer in a specific way. GOD sometimes likes to surprise HIS children!
Have some accountability
You can do this by asking someone, or a group of people, to pray for you and keep up with you during your time of searching. I would like to encourage you to leave a comment in this post so that I and others reading this can pray for you. You don't have to say anything specific, just that you've accepted the challenge. Also I encourage you to comment on other people's posts encouraging and praying for them! Please remember though that there are real people behind those comments and treat them with the kindness, love, and respect that Jesus offers to us all.
Are you ready? Nervous? Excited? Feeling a little bit of a lot of different emotions? Me too. I know the lie I'll be working on this week is "GOD can't fulfill me in my everyday longings and desires". Doesn't that sound selfish? So be praying that GOD will reveal to me how HE is the only Messiah and I am not. I'll be praying for you all too!
Blessings on your epic quest!
*Note: Because this story is so long I've decided to divide it up into 3 parts.
Please bear with me because it is a story worth telling*
Do you know how a disease starts? A disease does not start the day you wake up sick, no, a disease starts long before then. You get it days, sometimes weeks, earlier and it varies how you actually catch it.
Maybe you forgot to wash you hands after touching something.
Maybe you breathed it in.
Maybe you caught it from someone.
Then after it enters your body it stays there for a while slowly taking over until every part of you is affected. You can get a disease many different ways but the point is:
You don't know you have it until the symptoms start showing.
That's exactly what happened to me last winter. I was dangerously sick and didn't even know it. What was wrong with me? Well, before I tell you that I need to explain how I found out that I had this illness.
Back in about early November lots of different things began happening in my life that I believe brought me to the point that this disease could no longer remain unnoticed:
- My brother was about to graduate from high school and he knew exactly what it was that GOD wanted him to do with his life (unlike me who found out, no lie, one week before my graduation).
- I was 4 months away from my 20th birthday and still living at home.
- In the past 2 years I had completed only 1 of the online sewing classes for which I had signed up.
- My sewing business was not where I wanted it to be at this point.
- and prince charming had not shown up. All I ever wanted to do, since I was little girl, was to be a godly wife and mother. I felt like that was my life's calling but apparently that was not to be at the moment. Either that or God had forgotten a very important key element to my plan.
I began to feel depressed and fearful. What if God had forgotten about the plans He had for me? I thought. What if I'm not relevant to His Story? Don't get me wrong, I knew GOD loved me; I just began to wonder if I didn't have a part to play in the big scheme of life. I became dissatisfied and started having this feeling of anxiety all the time that caused me to have trouble eating. Then one of my biggest fears came to past:
I began having panic attacks.
My family has a history of panic attacks with the females on my mom's side. I, of course, thought they would never happen to me but secretly I feared that one day I would have them too. That day had come and I was terrified. They quickly grew until I could no longer control them. Every aspect of my life was affected to the point where my whole day was determined by how sick I was in the morning. I even missed out on most of my extended family's Thanksgiving gathering because I was so messed up.
But the point when I realized that this could go on no more was the week of my birthday. I threw up for 5 straight days and made my family, and myself, miserable. That's when I knew everything had to stop.
I thought I was just worried about my future and at my cousin's suggestion began looking up scriptures about how GOD is bigger than any obstacle. I prayed, I tried eating better, I read and re-read these verses every morning regardless if I felt like I needed them or not. But nothing had seemed to work.
One night I was praying and by praying I mean I was whining about how terrible my life was and how God needed to fix it. After a while I began to get sleepy so I ended my complaints with,
"Okay, goodnight God. I love you."
That got my attention. Prove it? What do you mean God? I gave my heart to you when I was ten, I try to live a life pleasing to you, obey your word, what do you mean prove it?
"Show me you love me"
Then He brought to my mind all the many times my mom has asked my daddy to prove that he loved her. Did she not know that daddy loved her? Yes she did. But she likes it when daddy proves it to her by giving her flowers, taking her out, or simply helping her around the house.
"Okay God, how do you want me to prove that I love you?"
The answer didn't come straight away but after searching and geniunely seeking God I finally got it.
"Start by serving others"
So I began by looking for ways to show God that I loved Him in my everyday life. I started not only reading The Bible, but studying it. I started trying to treat my family the way I wanted to be treated. I stopped simply watching the kids I babysat but tried to find ways to spend time with them that benefited them and not just put up with them on the days I was tired.
But like always, Satan doesn't give up too easily when he has a hold on our lives. I continued to be sick.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
You know that helpless feeling when you realize you can't control the things that happen around you?
My Aunt calls it falling without a net
I call it groping around in the darkness screaming for help and you can't see or feel anything.
That's where I've been since Monday Dec 23 2013 at around 10:00 am Central time when we first got the call that Petepaw was failing. Fast. I grope around in this ever present darkness searching for something, anything, but wanting my Father. I scream for HIM. I call out in anger and fear. Then when I finally stop and listen I hear HIM whisper my name sweetly:
"I'm right behind you Dear. I've been back here this whole time. Just turn around and you'll see me."
But I don't turn around and rush into HIS loving arms, even though I so desperately want to. Because all to often I let fear control me. So I sit down in the darkness and HE sits beside me.
"My world is falling apart." I tell HIM
"I know Baby"
"and I can't make it stop!" I cry
We sit there in silence for some time. He's waiting for me to speak.
"I'm sorry I'm crying. I know I shouldn't. I should be happy for Petepaw instead of selfishly crying for him. He's happy now and so I should be happy for him too I guess. Isn't that how it works?"
"If your crying is selfish, then why did I cry when my friend Lazarus died?" HE says
(HE like to say things like that to make me stop and think. Guess that's WHO my earthly Daddy gets it from) I sit again in silence once again, thinking over HIS words. HE is right. HE always is.
"Is Petepaw happy?" I ask unsure if I can even ask such a question.
"What do you think? What did you tell Izzy at the hospital after you saw him?"
HE is right. I told Izzy, who sat crying on the floor, after I saw Petepaw that he was happy. Because he was. If he felt happy the last day he was alive, how did I think he felt now that he was in his eternal home?
"Did he find Patt and Aren?" I ask referring to my sister and brother who were never born
"Yes. And he loves them."
Tears weld up in my eyes again and I cry. And HE loves me for crying anyway. HE wraps me in HIS arms and tells me:
"I know you feel alone. I know you hurt. I know there are times you feel like you need to be the strong one for everyone else. I know there are times you just want to crawl in a corner, curl up in a ball and cry. And I know you wish that this was all a dream and could go back asleep, wake up and everything be perfect. But it doesn't work that way Baby, I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way. Everyone has their time and that time must end at one point, it always does."
He strokes my hair in a way only someone with fatherly love can.
"But I promise, I'll be here. I'll be here during all those times you don't understand and those times you think you do. I won't leave you. I never did.
I was there in the Pearl Community Room when Aunt Rie got the call to go to the hospital and left you, Delia, Shelby, Max and Izzy all confused and worried. I was there In the hall when you called Hannah seeking help and advice. I was sitting in the chair with you when you called your daddy who was hours away and you wished he was there with you instead. I was in room #326 with you and gave you the strength you asked for to tell Petepaw how much you loved him. I was holding you when you found out that I had taken him home. I was there as you watched your brothers and two boy cousins carry his lifeless body to his grave. I was with you when you traveled home without your mom. I was holding you every time you felt alone and you didn't realize I was there. I was with you then and I'm with you now. I'm here when others can't be and I'm still here when they are.
And I promise I'll never let you go."
I cry at those words, while HE loves me. And He doesn't let go until I push away from HIM.
"Are you ready, my love, to walk this long road ahead of you? The road that leads to where you can say "I'm all right now?""
I nod and sniff back my tears. "Just hold my hand please."
HE smiles down at me "Oh Honey I'll do better than that." and HE picks me up in HIS wonderful strong arms. The same arms that made the universe, destroyed nations and carried the sick. The same arms that carried my Petepaw and now, HE carries me. Into the light down the long road to where I can say "I'm alright now" until I can walk it myself. Then HE holds my hand
and never lets go
and never leaves.
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