Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Running Desperate 3: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Lesson learned: God can teach old dogs new tricks! This summer when things were bad I had someone pray for me. They said they got an impression that perhaps some of the muscle tightness that caused my headaches was related to anxiety. What they didn't know is that I've been the type who stresses my whole life-- wound a little tight. I’m an internally focused perfectionist (meaning I don’t get so hung up on other people being perfect, but I expect it of myself).

When she said this to me, I was rather despairing. I know the verses about anxiety “be anxious for nothing” and I've addressed this multiple times in my 48 years.  However, having non-stop headaches and muscle pain that erupted into migraines all summer created a certain amount of desperation. No matter how hopeless change seemed, I needed to face this issue. God brought it to that person’s mind—that had to be a positive sign, right?

Anyway, I turned and faced this. I started talking to the Lord about my problem. I asked Him for help, said I was willing and desperate to change. He started showing me some things I hadn't been paying attention to. Being a focused individual, I tend to tune things out so I can push to reach whatever I’m focused upon. Well, the good Lord started to address that. He showed me when I was getting tense or upset and didn't realize it. He showed me that I tend to rush places and push myself when I should really quit. Little by little He started pulling out the threads on the big huge knot of my being anxious.  I can’t say that I’m totally “all better” but things are definitely much better…. and I can feel it. Now I’m committed to keep working on it by His grace. I know there is only greater freedom for me here, and I am much more confident that God can do anything.

Six months ago I would have never believed this was possible….but as I continue to learn…..with God ALL things are possible. We must continue to believe that He is the God who sets us free… matter how old we are!!

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Running Desperate 2: You Never Know When God is on the Move

 I told you I’d explain  the picture I shared in my last post, but I gotta be honest…..I’m not entirely sure what it means. Here’s what I know. It was the third in a series of pictures I got this spring (I talked about the first one on April 15th). I was in the middle of a major poor health drama at the time and so I have thought these images refer to my health. In the first picture I’m stuck miles behind enemy lines in a burned out city, hiding. Jesus and two angels come along and tell me they are going to get me out of there but I’m going to have to get up and get moving….and trust them.  I have a second picture where we are together on the run, trying to get out of enemy territory. The image from last week was the third image.  At the time I was really surprised. My leg was getting so much better and I thought “Surely I must be on the upswing. The drama is over and things are going to be fine now.” But this picture wasn’t an “everything is alright” type of picture. It indicated struggle and a dramatic sense of trying to overcome the attack of the enemy. I was rather bothered actually. Don’t tell me that there’s more difficulty to come, Lord. Really?  I even wondered if maybe God was showing me where I’d come and that I was already across the line and home free. I didn’t know whether to rejoice or brace myself. I decided that God would show me in His good time.

Well, it wasn’t an easy summer physically in many ways. My leg was so much better that I wanted to focus on that victory. But I lived with constant upper body muscle pain and I had an almost continual headache that kept kicking into a migraine. Everything set me off. I couldn’t sit or stand for very long without it giving me a migraine. I got one on the fourth of July and when I was with my parents at the lake. Not great timing. I was in bad shape. Then I started having stomach problems and the medicine I was taking for that wasn’t working either. It got worse as the start of school approached. After one week of school my leg started hurting again from standing all day. I was worried I would never make it through the school year at this rate.

I kept thinking about that picture, and at some point decided that it was now totally apropos. I did feel like I was running for my very life.

I didn’t know what to do…how does one get across that no man’s land and into the arms of Jesus?  Nick and I prayed about it all summer. We tried to trouble shoot things medically and spiritually. We went for prayer. Somewhere, somehow, in the middle of all of this, God began to move. I’m doing better. I can’t say I’m across that line (and I’m not sure if that’s a definitive moment that’s coming soon, or more indicative of the end of my days). Regardless, I’ve seen some victory and I’m going to share what I’ve learned over the next couple of posts.  One thing I know: God is good and I can totally trust Him, even when things are their darkest. You never know when He’s about to do something. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Running Desperate

I was nearing the front lines and running hard. The landscape looked like a scene from some old war movie. There were enemy guard towers and guards monitoring a white line drawn with chalk. For about 100 yards beyond that it stretched--no man’s land--the space between the enemy and the good guys. Switzerland, or whoever they were. At the end of the 100 yards the good guys had their own white line, guards, and towers.

Dirty, tired, clothes torn and desperate, I by some great miracle burst upon that scene and cross the enemy line into no man’s land. Shots ring out and bullets pepper the air around me. My muscles are burning and my lungs are on fire as I push my way forward. I can feel someone on my tail, gaining. I look ahead and there they are--Jesus and the two angels who had been with me. They are now standing right on the edge of the “good line”, the white chalk that meant I was home free. Soldiers from the “good guard towers” are firing at the enemy, trying to help me. I’m so tired I don’t think I can do it. But then I look up at Jesus.  He is screaming. He’s screaming so loudly his entire face is contorted, his body leaning over the line and his arms outstretched.  "Don’t stop! You can DO this! Come on!!”

The angels are screaming too, but I don’t really notice them. My eyes are fixated on my Savior, the only one who can truly help me. I feel the enemy close in behind, as if one big grab is all he would need to take me down. I am scared beyond belief and my heartbeat is pounding in my ears. Somehow I dig down deep, beyond the place where there is nothing left, to reserves only God can give. And with one last burst of energy I launch myself across the line. I go flying through the air and my ankle brushes between the enemy’s grasping hands as I throw myself into the arms of my Savior.

Blogs aren’t supposed to be long. Technically, “they say” an entry should be no more than 400 words. Not wanting to defy the experts, I’m going to wait and explain this picture on my next post. However, in the meantime, think on this. God is totally for us. He’s urging us on in the fight. In the midst of any crisis, any struggle, He’s waiting for us, wanting for us to run to Him with all desperation and throw ourselves into His arms. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guilt and Shame are Ugly Words

Guilt and shame are ugly words. They sound bad and they make people feel terrible—like carrying a big load of rocks you can never put down. A couple of weeks ago Keith preached a message about shame.  One of the advantages of being 48 is that I’ve dealt with so many life issues that I’m not walking around with a load of shame from my past. I figured the message would be nice but not entirely relevant.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I was completely wrong. God used that moment in time to dig into my soul and expose some wrong thinking. It was a “hurt so good” type of moment.

So what was my big revelation? Well, there’s the shame from past sins that is haunting. Then there’s the shame that’s more about who we are as people.  Like “I’m so ashamed that I can’t control my temper” or whatever.  Well, I may not feel a weight from my past, but I do carry around some big bricks of shame related to who I am not.  My house isn’t clean enough. I’m not a good enough wife, mother, friend, co-worker.  You name it, and I’m not good enough at it. It’s part of a perfectionist’s nature to see the ideal and consistently fall short.

What I didn’t realize was that down below the waterline, where I wasn’t aware, my feelings of failure were choking me. They were casting a shadow over my day to day existence as I continually focused on what I am not and felt shame and guilt over my failure.

Facing that junk wasn’t exactly a picnic, but it’s born good fruit. I had a good talk with the Lord as He exposed the extent of my thinking. I talked to Nick about it and got to hear his perspective or my life as a wife and mother (which was much more encouraging and positive than my own viewpoint). I got to repent of not going to the Lord for direction. I need to take my feelings of failure to Him and ask Him what He thinks. If I need to repent, then so be it. If God doesn’t convict me then I need to walk in freedom.

God’s about freedom. He’s about life. He’s positive. He doesn’t want us walking around in shame and guilt. If you’re feeling shame or guilt over anything, I suggest you take it to Him and He’ll show you what to do with it……I highly recommend it!

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.