My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘faithfulness’

Sin and Security…

I am going to be really transparent in this post. If you don’t like transparency, or emotional outbursts, this is probably not the post for you.

I have been taking a class at church going through a book called, “The Peace Maker” by Ken Sande. I have to confess that at first I was drawn to this class because at times my marriage has needed some peacemaking. But when two sinners get married, what do you expect?

The first few chapters were good, but then I hit Chapter 5 – Conflict Starts in the Heart. Wow…I will have to say that is when God really opened my eyes. I started reading this chapter and all of a sudden everything was applying to me…not to my husband. And let me tell you something, it was heartbreaking.

God has really used this book, and another study I am doing in my quiet time about Prayer, to break me. He has shown me that I have made an idol out of the need for security. I have seen clearly for the first time how I will do anything, including putting a huge burden on my husband, to get the security I crave and think that I deserve.

Let me back up a bit. Most of you know that I was adopted as a baby. I had fantastic, wonderful parents who always told me how much I was loved and wanted, but there was always this deep seated insecurity inside of me. I always felt like I was different and somehow not good enough because my birth mother obviously did not want me and just gave me up. Of course, as I got older and (a little) wiser, I realized that this was not true at all. She did love me, enough to give me up to someone who could better care for me. But knowing that intellectually and living it emotionally are always two very different things.

So, little by little, I placed a huge burden on my husband of making me feel secure. And when he failed, and he did, because he is a human sinner, as am I, I blamed him for my insecurity. This caused me to build a wall in my heart to avoid the pain. Sin, sin, sin…

I have never seen this so clearly as I did today. Let me share a little of what I journalled for my homework in class:

What do I seek and desire? Love of my spouse and security in our relationship. This is my idol. When I do not feel the security I desire in our relationship, I punish him by becoming distant (justification = protect myself) or angry (threaten or blame shift), instead of finding the security I crave from the one True God.

Another entry says:
As you look back on how you have handled this conflict do you see a need to repent and for confession? Yes! I was placing my needs and expectations on Bud. I believe that most of this (a recent argument) stems back to placing my desire for security on his shoulders as a burden that he can not possibly fulfill or carry. Again, repentance is necessary on my part as I have placed this on him rather than on God who is the only one who can and will give me the security and love I desire. I have continually taken the desire for love of God He has placed in me and put it as a burden on my husband. This has brought about a lot of conflict in our marriage which I have then blamed on him. I now realize there is no way my husband could ever meet these needs because he was never meant to…only God was.

As you can see, this has been rather eye-opening for me. And wildly freeing to my heart.

I can see God’s goodness and mercy so clearly and how I was the one backing away not God.

Why am I sharing this in a public forum such as my blog? I think transparency is a good thing. I think it is a public confession. I also think when God shows you something this good and freeing, you need to share it so others can learn from it as well. But most of all, I wanted to share how GREAT our God is! How loving and merciful and tender. I want to praise Him for being so longsuffering with me when I do not deserve it, worm that I am.

Thank you for letting me be transparent and free with you, as well.

Waiting…

The older I get, the more I realize that I am not good at waiting. In fact, I’m really bad at waiting. Even when I have something not so pleasant coming along, I would rather get it over with then anticipate it. I figure, the faster I start with it, the faster I’ll be done with it.

It seems to me that 2011 is going to be the year of waiting. I guess God is determined to finally teach me some patience.

A few things I am waiting for right now…

~ The end of my old job and the beginning of my new job – as I made the decision to leave my job at Wells Distribution, I decided to give a one month notice. That way Wells would have time to find someone to replace me and I would have time to train them.

It really was a great idea but the wait has been hard. I am a “make a decision and then get on with it” type of person. So I have had to do a lot of praying to God for help in the waiting.

~ My father-in-law’s cancer – as anyone who has helped a loved one through a major illness, it usually is a “hurry up and wait” process. My father-in-law has finished with his radiation and chemotherapy for the time being, but we are waiting to see if the tumor has shrunk enough for surgery. Right now it looks good, but the treatments work for several weeks after they are done, so again with the waiting.

~ Bud coming home – this is actually been the hardest for me of all. It seems like Bud has been gone for so long already but in reality, it has only been a little over 2 months. That means I still have 5 more months before he comes for his one-week visit, and 7 months before he is home. The hardest part about this waiting situation is missing the day-to-day time together. We talk on the phone every day and we video Skype as much as we can, but it’s the little things I miss. I can’t just text Bud something when it happens. I can’t go up and hug him. I can’t get tickled about something we see and burst into laughter. Those things are the things I miss the most.

There are many stories in the Bible where God’s people had to wait. Abraham and Sarah had to wait until their old ages for their longed-for child (Genesis 18:10), Moses and the Israelites waited to enter the promised land (see Exodus), Noah waited for the waters to recede (Genesis 8:10), Simeon waited to see the Redeemer (Luke 2:27-32), as did Anna (Luke 2:36-39), We await the return of our Christ Jesus in all His glory (Revelation 19:11-16).

So, I wait. And I take hope in knowing that God is faithful to those who have faith and wait.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
– Psalm 27:14

All About Clouds…

I was looking at my tag cloud on my blog last night and I found that my top tags are as follows (in no particular order):

This makes me feel like at least I have my blog posting’s priorities in line.  I want to strive to make sure my life is in line and focusing on the MOST important things, not the mundane.

With Bud being gone for an extended period and changing jobs and training someone to replace me, I feel like my priorities are all skewed.

I have started using something called the Read Through the Bible Program for Shirkers and Slackers which seems to work well for me.   It is a reading plan but it’s not as structured so I don’t feel so freaked out if I miss a day or only read half of what I was supposed to that day.  I have been much more consistent with my daily Bible reading since starting this.  http://www.ransomfellowship.org/publications/notes_biblereadingprogram.pdf

I am still struggling with praying like I should.  I’m being really transparent here…I am truthfully praying around 4-5 times a week instead of every day.  This is something I am working on, though.  I am hoping once I change jobs and have an extra hour in the morning, I can institute a real consistent quiet time with praying every morning.  I am keeping a prayer list and am doing much better than in the past.  Prayer is really something I struggle with the most.

I am trying to be reading a good non-fiction Christian book at all times.  Sometimes I am reading fun reads (mostly Christian fiction) as well, but I’m trying to consistently read something meaty too.  Right now I am in the Holiness MIT class so my meaty Christian book is “Holiness” by JC Ryles.  This book has helped me greatly in this endeavor, as JC Ryles is an excellent read and has totally smashed my misconceptions about non-contemporary Christian writers.  This is good stuff and it’s making me want to branch out to more classic Christian writers.  I was, however, always a fan of CS Lewis.

Oh, and just a quick mention about adoption.  I saw Third Day’s new video for the song, “Children of God” and can I say that I’m amazed.  The song is already fantastic but the video blew me away.  Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

Third Day, Children of God

As an adopted child myself, by earthly parents as well as God my father, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.


Yay!

So I just got some great news!

It isn’t something I can share just yet but just suffice it to say that God has shown out yet again!!!

Sometimes I feel so much like an Israelite in that I continually seem to forget how great God is and to remember His past deeds. I wonder why that is?

Deuteronomy 4:9

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.

Psalm 77:11-13

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?

God has shown Himself faithful to me (and my family) again and again. And when I stop to think about it I am so thankful and amazed. But the problem is that I don’t seem to stop and think about it near enough. I seem to be content to just go through my life consumed with looking down and plodding ahead.

It reminds me of when Peter walked on the water.

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Notice how Peter was fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus. But even more than that…like me, I wonder how much Peter missed of what Jesus was showing him by taking his eyes off of Him?

And also, see what the other disciples observed as they were watching what the Lord was doing:

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Wow! I have got to look up. I am missing so much of His beauty and holiness.

And I definitely need to quit being so surprised when my Heavenly Father gives me good gifts and blessings. Scripture even tells us that God gives us good things if we ask (and even when we don’t).

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

For now, I am remembering the past deeds of my Father and rejoicing in the blessing He has chosen to bestow on me.

Praying for Persecution…

Yesterday, I spent a little over an hour watching a wonderful movie at church. It was a film called Malatya. The information describes it as follows:

malatyaApril 18, 2007, three men were murdered inside a Bible publishing office in Malatya, Turkey. The killers were five teenagers, each found with a note reading “We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion.” This film is the story of the martyrs, the Turkish Church, and the enduring faithfulness of God.

It was a wonderful although convicting film.

The three martyrs were tortured and then murdered by five boys whom they had welcomed into their church and witnessed the Lord Jesus Christ to. These were men with wives, fiancés, and children. They were loved and loved their families. However, they loved Jesus Christ more.

The Matalya Martyrs

The Malatya Martyrs

I was very convicted by something that was said by one of the people interviewed. They said that people are usually paralyzed by fear or paralyzed by comfort.

I was totally blown away by this statement. I had to pray this morning that I won’t be paralyzed by either but particularly by comfort. I have come to realize that this is the case with many, many of Christians in the United States. We have it so good – not being persecuted for our faith. So much so that I’ve heard that many of the churches in foreign countries pray that the US churches will be persecuted so that they will become more faithful and on-fire for Christ.

And this makes it hard. What do I pray for? I feel like I should pray for persecution of the US church so that we can be found faithful. But…wow…how do you pray for persecution? I finally prayed not to be paralyzed by either fear or comfort – no matter the cost.

This was something one of the wives of the martyrs talked about. How much is too much to give? Especially when our Lord and Savior gave even His life for us? How can we give anything less? And she is correct. We should give anything and everything to our Lord Jesus.  At any time.

I just pray that if everything is required of me that I will joyously and worshipfully give it. That I will be like Job and say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)


God Knows…

At our house, with four cars, there is a method to parking so no one gets blocked in. The first two home get to park in the carport (which is always the preferred spot but especially when it’s going to be cold or raining the next morning). The last two home have to drive straight up the driveway and up against the fence.

Last Wednesday, Bella and I were coming home from church together. My car was number four in that night so we parked up against the fence. As we pulled up, Bella noticed something in the fence in the headlights. Honestly, I thought it was just the way the leaves were arranged but Bella swore it was something there.

So we left the headlights on and took a look. And it was something…it was this little bird sitting in the fence in the middle of one of the links about a third of the way down. Something had obviously happened to the little guy. He was just sitting there and as we came up to him, he just sat there and looked at us. He was aware of us because Bella and I were on each of side of him and he would look at one of us and then at the other. But something was quite right with him either. It was like he was in a daze. He didn’t fly away and he even let Bella touch his side. (I myself didn’t attempt this because I didn’t want it to suddenly to go crazy and peck my eyes out or something. I guess I shouldn’t have watched the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds” that time…)

After getting Joey to come out and look at our new friend, we went on inside for the night. But I kept thinking about that little birdie. I wondered what had happened to him to that he would just sit right there when we came up. I wondered if he had hit a window and been grazed by a car to make him so dazed.

The next morning as I went to my car to go to work, I looked to see if he was still there. I was pretty sure that I would find his little body dead on the ground. But there he was…still sitting in the same section of fence looking at me. He seemed much more alert this time but showed no inclination to fly off.

He was on my mind all day but when I got home Thursday evening he was gone. I searched all around on the ground just to be sure he hadn’t died but I never found him and I wondered what had happened to him: why had he been there, where was he now…

I realized that I would never know why that little bird was there…but God knows. The Scripture says in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” Isn’t that a comforting thought? No matter what is going on in our life, God knows. He is not taken by surprise or unaware of even the littlest thing that happens or that we are going through. Just like with that little bird.

What a wonderful thought…God knows. Such a short sentence but so profound. So when I wake up feeling sad, missing my mom…God knows. When someone says something that really hurts…God knows. When I do something really nice for someone that no one sees…God knows. When I slam my finger into the door and curse…God knows. Wait – that last one – that’s not good.

You see, God knows everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And if truth be told, it’s probably a lot more bad and ugly than good. A wonderful thought, but a scary one too.

That’s where the good news comes in. God knows it all…but He also made a way for us to be forgiven for the bad and the ugly stuff He sees in our hearts and minds! And that is one of the innumerable things that makes God so awesome…He knows and He still loves us. He knows and He made a way to wash us clean. He knows and He still chooses us to be called “Children of God.”

So next time I see a little bird – be it flying in the air or sitting on the fence – I am going to meditate on the fact that God knows…

Falling in Love (or God’s Plan for My Life), Part IX…

The next Sunday we went to church but Bud again had to work. After the sermon, at the time of invitation, I was singing and I felt like someone was pushing me out of the pew. It was an actual physical feeling. I knew I couldn’t just stand there, I had to walk…to the front…right then…and pray to receive Jesus. I started going out of the pew but Bella started hanging on my arm and telling me not to go. I just brushed her off and walked to the front.

I was so excited to pray to receive Jesus. I also filled out the card to join a FAITH team then and there.

Our lives changed totally within that period of a few weeks. The first thing I noticed after my salvation was that the anger was gone. And I had a totally different perspective on why God took my mother. I finally understood that all my prayers that he heal my mother HAD been answered…just not in the way my selfish self wanted. God did the ultimate healing and took her out of her pain and suffering to be with Him in Heaven!!! Oh how selfish I was for wanting her here with me, suffering. I had a sense of peace and joy that I had never had anytime in my adult life. We made friends and had friendships that were so different from anything we had ever experienced before.

I would love to say: and we lived happily ever after. But that isn’t the Christian life. While I know that in the end we will live happily ever after as we spend eternity praising our holy God, I know that there are and will continue to be trials and tribulations.

For example: a few years after we Christians, Bud lost his job yet again. Our income was cut about 2/3rds in one day. I had just bought a new car four days prior to him losing his job because Bella had been in a car accident and my car was totaled. Joey was also starting at a private school the week after Bud lost his job. Bella was a senior in high school with all the extra expenses that entails.

Bella & Joey

Bella & Joey

But God was so faithful to us. He worked through many people and circumstances around us to ensure that our family had what we needed. One time we didn’t know how we were going to pay tuition for Joey’s school for the month. We hadn’t confided this to anyone (except God). The last day to pay before getting a penalty, I decided I would just pay it and then figure out how to pay our power bill and get groceries later. When I got to the school to pay, I was told that the tuition had been paid for that month. The school wouldn’t tell us who paid it because the donor wished to remain anonymous. To this day I don’t know who God used to pay that tuition, but I do know with all my heart that God did lead someone to pay it.

Several times, when we needed to pay a utility bill, we would get a notice from the utility company that we had overpaid sometime in the last year and there was no payment due for that month.

Through several job situations, God has remained faithful to provide for us and to put us in a position to be able to survive. And God also has changed my husband so much. He is such a godly man who worked any and every job to ensure that his family had what they needed.

Life is so, so good. We have had so many ups and downs but always knowing God was right there with us. Loving us, providing for us, guiding us, and even chastising us. God still has to knock us over the head with a two-by-four. But He has been faithful to us. And best of all…Bud was recently ordained as a deacon in our church. Eight short years ago Bud was an in-your-face atheist and now he is a deacon. What else can I say but…..God is so good!

(The End) =-)