“When you believe a promise of God, you honor God’s ability to do what he promised and his willingness to do what he promised and his wisdom to know how to do it. When you trust somebody, you honor them at the deepest level.”
I was wondering why I have been “struggling” these past few weeks. I dug into all sorts of old wounds and hurts, processed through new ones and came to the conclusion that my life is just “hard” and that I can’t trust God because of it.
Oh, Ione. You silly little child.
You see guys, I have no problem praising God in the rain. Bring on the storms of life, bring the chaos and the rough patches and I thrive. Bring the sunshine and the daisies? I hop on a plane and take off to the side of the world where the rain pours the hardest. I am hard-wired to succeed in the hard times and have no idea how to live life in the warmth of the sunniest of days. God has brought me through some honestly horrible situations. And although I am beyond thankful for that, I find myself running back to the mindset of “everything is out of control and hard” because THAT is when I run to Jesus. THAT is when I cling to Him the most. During this current season of life, I am allowing myself to relax that discipline of studying His word and spending ample amounts of time in His presence. Because things are good right now, I feel like I don’t NEED Him as much as before.
Which WOW is so not true.
Even though no one is beating me up, abusing me, spreading nasty rumors, intentionally hurting me, etc… does not mean that I don’t need a Savior. I would think to myself “Well, it’s not that bad because you have been through worse.” My friend the other day said that is like saying it’s okay that I lost my finger because I lost my leg once and that was so much worse. Doesn’t take away the fact that the finger is gone. You still need help with that. And I still need Jesus. I still need to trust Him and His word. The battle is never over. But the fight may vary in difficulty. Right now, my biggest stresses are miniscule in comparison to other stresses I have dealt with before and surprisingly, Jesus cares about the tiny as much as the ginormous.
So, Lord, I have said it before but I will say it again. I am so sorry for doubting you and undermining your authority in my life.
I am studying through the book of Daniel currently and came across a phrase that reminded me so much of what God has done for me. In the commentary it reads, “We need to notice that they received deliverance in the fire, not from the fire…When the godly refuse to compromise there are no limits to the anger of the wicked. Those who say that they are prepared to go into the furnace for the Lord’s sake must be brought to realize that that furnace may be considerably hotter than they could possibly imagine” (Olyott). The Lord has saved me in the fire so many instances and sometimes even through the fire. How ridiculous of me to doubt Him when His hand has been so evident in my life. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) I am so quick to forget. I am so quick to fall back into the pattern of disbelief that kept me from God for so long. I am so quick to move back to chaos when I feel uncomfortable in the peace. I do what I do not want to do.
What a smack in the face of the reality that I NEED JESUS EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY OF EVERY YEAR!
And that every day means every single day. I have felt far away from the Lord, I have felt confused, I felt angry and weak and useless. And I would sit, ready to journal it all out and talk to God about it and have some big emotionally charged spiritual moment with the Holy Spirit and then I could release these chains. Then I could get back to God. But…wasn’t like that this time.
This time, I knew the solution to my “problems” and neglected to acknowledge that.
As I sat down last night, ready to cry my heart out and let God fix it all for me, I was hit with some tough love. I said, “okay Lord, here it all is and I don’t know what to do.” And He simply replied, “Really? You don’t know what to do?” Actually, yah God you are right, I am a filthy liar.
I already knew what the problem was. I have not been getting into the word. I have not been spending my hours in prayer, and when I did I only prayed selfishly. I read a Psalm before bed, if I wasn’t too sleepy. And honestly, I hate admitting this because a huge passion on my heart is to see others overwhelmed with a hunger and desire for the Word. But what about myself? I so foolishly neglected my time with the Lord, when that should and always needs to be my top priority. “Our prison cell of darkness is not the bondage of external constraint but of internal preference. We have exchanged the glory of God for images…The answer to our darkness is the shining of divine glory into our hearts by means of the light of knowledge-the knowledge mediated by God’s inspired Scripture.” (Piper)
God’s word is His message of love to us. When you are hurting, read. When you are stressed, read. When you are confused, overwhelmed, sad, mad, read. When you are joyful, happy, at peace, relaxed, read. There is no excuse for not reading. I know I have no excuse. This summer, one of the biggest take away’s from working at Mount Hermon was the realization that I truly connect with the Lord intellectually, through reading His word, commentaries, novels, and writing out what I learn (hence this blog). When I don’t do that, do I really expect I will still be able to function and combat the battles of life? It’s almost like, come on Ione what did you really expect?
What God has been teaching me has not been some sweet run back into His arms, or some beautiful truth that brings comfort to my soul. No. It’s been more of a shaking of the head going “Come on, kid. You know this stuff already.” God does not think little of me, He does not turn His back to me because He sees how silly I am being but He is my Father and as such, He holds me to a higher stander. He knows my character and my potential and wants to see me living my life at its fullest. Sometimes, I don’t need the cushy, lovey-dovey God. Sometimes I need the truth to be dropped at me feet and a firm voice to say “Pick it up. You know it is good for you.” To fight the flesh, and combat the evils all around, you have GOT to put in effort. One cannot expect that they will win the battle with little preparation. “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)
So, we each have a choice. Truly. We either read the Word and believe what it says, or we don’t. “When the light shines in the darkness it cannot prove itself to be light except by shining. And how can I know that it is the light? I have only the testimony of Jesus: ‘I know whence I have come and whither I am going.’ This testimony necessarily places me at a point of decision, of crisis, which I cannot evade. I must either accept this testimony or else reject it because it is not corroborated by any witness from the world of human experience.” (Newbigin)
As I make my choice, I hope you make yours. I have brought along friends on this journey, to keep me accountable for my word, knowing how easily led astray I am. But I pray that if you have not made that choice yet, that you do. For time on this earth, time to come to the Lord, does not last forever.
“There is a time, we know not when,
A place we know not where,
That marks the destiny of man
In glory or despair
There is a line, by us unseen,
That crosses every path,
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and His wrath.
Oh, what is that mysterious bourn
By which man’s path is crossed,
Beyond which God Himself hath sworn,
The soul that goes is lost?
How long might I go on in sin,
How long will God forbear;
Where does hope end and where being
The confines of despair?
The answer from the skies is sent-
‘Ye who from God depart,
While it is called today, repent
And harden not your heart.”
God, all I want is you. All I want is a softened heart, a teachable heart. One that is not quick to forget, one that is so open that all truth comes in and stays there. All I want is You, in my heart, forever and always, so I can stop falling back into the confusion and chaos but rest in your unfailing, unchanging love and forgiveness.