Through these few weeks of suffering the condition I mentioned in a recent post, I have been more focused than ever on bringing more of God’s presence into my day-to-day life. Funny that!
We always stretch further for Him when we are suffering, don’t we?
Last week I completed a 2 week fast. No alcohol, No TV, and did not touch a blog site or any social media. My intention was to meditate, and work on my novel, as much as possible (although my plans are not always His and He had other things for me to deal with).
The foundation of a successful fast, is giving up anything that seeks to control us, anything we enjoy enough to get lost in, or find a pull towards during tough times. Easy distractions or addictions, habits and weaknesses. During a fast we make a 100% non-negotiable promise, to God, to go without which ever thing we are fasting for an achievable amount of time.
Each time the tempting thought arises we acknowledge God and our promise to Him, we reinforce that promise and we ask for His help when it gets tough. By doing this we are making some huge expressions of faith from our softened hearts. (God just loves it when we do this!)
These are some things that speak out of our hearts during a fast like this – God is real, He watches us, We revere Him enough to want to keep our promise. We need his help when we are weak. We are willing to give up the pleasures of the world to acknowledge Him and invite Him in to our situation.
It is the most powerful exercise I have found to overcome the world and my flesh, and witness His presence.
The first thing I noticed during this particular fast, was how much spare time I had to get other things done. I accomplished so much, and after feeling useless for a number of weeks, I felt a great sense of achievement as I ticked off many things on my never ending to-do list.
The second thing I noticed was how much easier it was to discover God’s guidance and to find things to praise Him for. The medication I am on for this condition has exacerbated my mood disorder significantly, I am more emotionally sensitive than ever. It can only take a millisecond for me to burst into tears, or flick on the rage switch, grit my teeth and loose any place of calm. Often, in times like this, I pray. Usually something desperate like “Oh Lord help me, take away my emotions, help so-and-so see how hard this is for me and not aggravate me! I don’t want to feel like this” etc. Then I wait…with angry tears….until He changes things.
However, during this fast I found praising Him was a much quicker way to flick off that unpleasant switch.
I recommend everyone tries this, it is not always easy, but it works every time!
Right in the midst of a full blown attack, when our Inner Enemies are hitting us from every angle, rather than fighting back in anger, we can end the battle then and there. By pushing aside that tidal wave of ammunition, which fuels unpleasant emotions, just for a second, and find something, anything to be grateful for. Praise God for that, whatever it may be. It could be as simple as the ability to breathe, or the warm bed you are about to snuggle up in… It could be the legs that allow you to walk away from something aggravating. 😉
If there is anything that will send our Inner Enemies high-tailing it into the distance, it is Praise! Worship! Gratitude! Forgiveness! A sure way to grab onto the face of God and turn it towards you!
A child wakes to a crisp Easter morning
The smell of chocolate is in the air.
Her aim is to find the most number of eggs
That a bunny was willing to share.
Shop windows filled with chickens and rabbits
Business doors are closed up tight.
Plans are made for the long weekend
Though not a cross is in sight.
The truth of why we celebrate this time
has been lost and no longer kept,
No thought at all for the message of grace
nor of the Saviour’s many tears wept.
Our Lord cried in the Garden of Olive trees
On the eve of His great sacrifice.
His torture and grief were for certain
Yet He begged some other way would suffice.
The keys of death were far below
Where sin caused life and hope to cease.
Only a blameless soul, willing to go
Could make a path of mercy, to peace.
In our home on every Good Friday
We read aloud this precious story.
We sip wine as blood and eat bread of life
In awe of His risen Glory.
Bunnies are cute and chocolate is sweet
And the truth of the cross, tough to grasp.
But next month all the eggs will be gone,
This gift of forgiveness shall last and last.
I hope you enjoyed this poem, perhaps you would also like the one I wrote at Christmas. Here is the link in case you missed it A Poem of Christmas Woe.
Happy Easter & Blessings to all!
It took a long time for me to hit publish on my first post, 2 years in fact. I missed out on the wonderful Blogosphere for so long because it was so very far from my comfort zone. Have you missed out, while clinging to your comfort zone too? But isn’t it amazing when we do take a risk and perhaps experience a little discomfort, in order to bring something new and wonderful into our lives!
After the long list of times I have found success in my faith walk, you would think I might be more courageous. I have written many posts bursting with evidence of courage and victory, posts about standing on God’s promises, about speaking up for faith while risking my reputation. I have shared the amazing tale of trusting God with my premature Daughter. I have advised on all the ways to gain help from above, and many more, but my courage seems fickle sometimes.
I’ve noticed that most of these experiences seem to have emerged from the most desperate times in my life. Times I was fighting for my sanity, when I was fighting for my family’s & my safety, or I was fighting for a new life.
It is much easier to choose to hand these types of situations over to God, because I know I have no control over them anyway.
Recently, God has been teaching me to let go of control in other ways, in areas that don’t threaten my life, or my sanity. Teaching me about sacrificing my ability to create comfort around me.
You see, I have this yearning inside me to go to the next level in my life, like destiny is calling my name so loudly it is deafening sometimes.
Yet, I have a good life. I am extremely blessed. I don’t have that desperation to HAVE TO change or improve anything with great intensity. Life is looking pretty damn good right now, and I am so grateful for that!
I guess I find myself at a point where I am scared of what I will have to give up in order to reach that next level. Sayings, which we have all heard a million times, are replaying in my mind, “Why fix something that is not broken” & “Don’t rock the boat!”. (Sigh*)
I read this awesome post Being Comfortable can Become Crippling and it hit me in the core of my being. It made me realise something profound.
I am crippled by my comfort!
The blogger replied to my comment, where I shared my recent predicament, and her words were simple, convicting and wonderful. I saw how our Inner enemies use our comfort as something we pursue, aimlessly following it wherever it takes us, yet while chasing after this comfort we miss out on the greater blessings and purpose given to us from above.
Her last few words gave me the kick in the pants I needed –
“It’s time to bust out of our comfort zone and jump into the lake of faith and swim. I know we don’t know how deep the water is, but God will be our floatation device. Trust Him!!!”
It is easy to fight against an opposition that is obvious, enemies that you can see threatening you, but we must go deeper and fight against those next level inner enemies, the ones that aren’t so blatant but just as damaging to the greater plan for our lives.
It is time to fight back against these tactics which hold us back. Time to break out of our comfort zone and see what we are really here for.
Lord I pray you show me how, guide me toward YOUR steps, and I will go, with your strength as my cane and your wings as my safety.
Warning: Contains Graphic Image
One of the main reasons we miss out on experiencing the presence of God in our lives is because our thoughts are too consumed by the physical world. We focus on our material comforts, our desires, our careers, our families, our looks, our fun or our reputation. These are the ‘beautiful things’ placed before the throne of God by the enemy, to distract us from pursuing righteousness. They are responsible for hardening our hearts, and building pride, which prevents God from being able to intimately connect with us.
We protect our own worldly desires and our reputations so much, yet we may be inspired by a vital piece of the puzzle when understanding the lessons constructed within the sacrifice of Christ.
Consider for a moment that the King of Kings, glorified by angels, the highest authority in all the universe, lost His reputation and respect, gave up His position and His worldly desires, endured the lowest form of humiliation and abasement, by undertaking a criminals torture and death. Offering His blood to flow as the cleansing waterfall, for us to be able to connect with God, becoming blameless through Him! He gave up His comfort and reputation FOR US!
I need a moment to let that sit on my heart and let the tears clear from my eyes….
How can we expect to be intimate with God if we give up nothing for Him in return for His sacrifice for us, or even fail to acknowledge it?
If we have a ‘God-sized’ hole in our hearts, there is nothing of this world that will fill it. The only way to feel whole, is to fill ourselves with the love of Christ first, before anything from the physical realm. This includes relationships, good times, wealth, knowledge etc. By giving back to God the things of the world we have held onto in our hearts, we move into a new phase of a supple mindset and heart.
Once we accept that the ‘world’ is not meeting our expectations or filling that void inside us, and instead move God into that space, by making Him come first. Then we can begin, bit by bit, to let go of our grip on the comforts of the world and the hold they have over us. This is required if we are to have an experiential awareness of God. We can begin to understand and accept that there are purposes behind enduring suffering throughout our time here.
“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man’s advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?'” Luke 9:23-25 (KJV)
Taking up our cross daily is the equivalent of an unselfish willingness to suffer, to pray for strength of faith instead praying for more comfort. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. Giving up our lives doesn’t necessarily mean bringing about our death. God certainly means us no harm, and this is proven especially if we recognise that Christ came to free us from death and give us life. Giving up our lives means being willing to let God use our life for His cause, to cling to Him through our suffering. It means, no matter what suffering we endure, our faithfulness allows God’s strength to be perfected in our weakness.
We must expect to face some persecution for our faith, for we become different to those of the world. Singer songwriter Amy Grant sang the lyrics..”When the world begins to see you change, don’t expect them to applaud.” Fear not, for in due time the Lord will vindicate those who are His children.
We may also endure physical ailments, which act as our own experience of the “thorn in the flesh”, a condition to keep us humble, for the miracles we can achieve with God in charge of our lives can very quickly puff us up with pride.
My car accident, for example, left me with injuries that weakened me, yet at that time God used me for some miraculous experiences through my faithful obedience. More experiences than I can remember, it was a time of daily miracles. I would have claimed the glory for myself had I not been exposed to the weakness that my physical body was restricted by. I knew I was not capable of being strong faithfully because at a time I was so bottomed out by psychological and physical damage.
Through our willingness to suffer as Christ did, in a metaphorical sense, we grow in intimacy and unity with God, our hunger and need for Him causes us to step into the miracles He can perform through us.
A way to help us tolerate the suffering, comes when we accept that this world is only temporary, much better awaits those who have been called into salvation and eternity. Is it easy? Absolutely not! I can tell you however, that it is WORTH IT!
Everything you sacrifice unto the Lord, He will return 100 fold!
“And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” Matt 19:29 (ASV)
This is the 6th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Check out the previous posts Connection, Accepting an Encounter, Security, Control & Nourishment, if you haven’t already, and here is the link to the next post in this series…