Thursday, February 19, 2015

What does "God is Enough" mean practically???

     I survived my trip away.  Brogan did fine and so did mommy ;).  As I have often seen, God has a sense of humor.  I spent weeks worrying about being gone for so many days: six long ones!!!  We fly to Boston and what is predicted for the weekend…A Blizzard!  So instead of six days our trip was cut short to three days.  We had to fly out early so Adam could make sure he was back for work on Monday.  Instead of being thrilled to be home early, I was disappointed that we didn't have our full vacation away just the two of us.  The discontent of my heart rears its ugly head.  Isn't it funny that no matter what happens we can easily find a way to be dissatisfied.  I am thankful for our time away, and laugh with God that He answered my prayer of being home with my little one safely it was just a little earlier than I expected.

     The weeks leading up to the trip were so good for me.  I talked last time about my fears and anxiety about leaving.  I shared my frustration of having this constant battle without seeing any victory.  The Lord has graciously shown me victory and some insight into this struggle of mine.  So here are some updated thoughts….

       I have seen my anxiety increase with the birth of Brogan and then even more with this pregnancy.  I have often read, heard, or even thought this is a normal part of motherhood. Mothers worry!  We have a tender heart for our children and want the best for them.  We know we can't control everything.  So in creeps doubts and fears of all the "what if" possibilities.  This is normal right?  I'm a good mother if I'm thinking ahead or let's be honest worrying about the future, right?  Well, maybe not.  I think Scripture calls me out and rebukes me with a big, fat "NO".  No, it isn't right that I worry or fear or be anxious.  The Bible pretty clearly calls this sin. Yikes!  I have seen this pattern of thinking over the last year and the sin that it is, but until I started reading that book I wasn't seeing victory.  It was just a constant battle.  I have seen over the last couple weeks much progress in this area.  God's grace!!!  He has reminded me of truth.  Not just thinking truth, but applying it.  Here are somethings that God has been laying on my heart in this area….

         I know the answer to conquering sin: put off, renew, put on.  Okay step one: "put off".   I have done a decent job of that: stop thinking lies (the "what if" scenarios).  However; the other two steps I was not doing such a good job.  "Renewing my mind" was not a priority.  I was in God's Word daily, but I was not spending time renewing/dwelling/applying the truths I was reading.  God in His wisdom knew I needed a little push to see my sin.  He gave me a trip to Boston.  A trip where I couldn't control every detail.  Isn't that what worry is often about?  Our ability to control.  We like to be independent.  We like to think we have life just as we want it and we do not need any help.  We control our destiny.  Right?  Wrong! The truth is even when we think we are in control, let's be honest, we really are not. This idea of control is not at all how God has life planned for the believer.   So God gave me a trip to remind me that I need Him and His truths are enough for me.  I begin to realize the importance of what I was putting into my mind.  This meant also being very careful to not put certain things in my mind.  I have come to realize t.v. shows, the news, even (gasp) social media will affect my thinking.  I know I am not called to give up everything in the world and live a hermit's existence, but His Word clearly teaches what goes into my mind will come out.  So I have been diligent in avoiding things that will cause me to be unnecessarily anxious.  For instance: after Troy died I joked about only watching Law and Order because there was no romance.  True, there was no romance, but there is a lot of death.  That constant diet of death was not healthy in my thinking truth. Instead it was causing me to fear death and all the "what if" scenarios I had seen on t.v. were now playing out in my mind.  I have had to "put off" several things that were not helpful in my thinking.  I have begun to evaluate carefully what I am putting into my mind by Philippians 4:8….is it just, is it pure, is it lovely, is it commendable, is there any excellence?  If so, then Paul says, "Think about these things."  The second thing the Lord is teaching me is being diligent in "putting on" the things that I am learning in the "renewing" my mind step.  I have a box filled with passages of Scripture on note cards.  I call this my truth box, but I haven't used it since I got married.  It is just not practical for me today.  I knew I needed a new way of focusing on truths.  So I have a Bible that had never been written in.  It has become my truth box.  I have highlighters that go with this Bible.  When I read, I highlight truths: Blue-truths about God, Green-commands, and Pink-promises.  I now have a practical truth box that works for me.  I have spend much time in His Word these past weeks being reminded of who He is and what He promises.  It has been so refreshing!  I see my love for His Word re-awakened.  I have seen the fears diminishing as I trust these promises and trust the One who made them.  Not perfect, but by His grace seeing victory.

        So trip is over and that impending doom feeling I was experiencing is gone, but my lessons of dependence have not ended.  The Lord taught me something so beautiful this morning….I have often thought of the accident as an experience that will forever change my thinking about life.  I thought it was a bit of a curse that I would always go to worst case scenarios in my mind because I knew those things could happen.  In so many ways, I have seen God's hand at work and am so thankful for all He did through losing Troy.  I just thought this was part of my new normal.  To be honest, I was a little jealous of people who didn't struggle with this type of thinking.   For instance, Adam does not think like this.  I have often wished I could be like him: a little more optimistic!  Today, God gave me a new vision of this thinking.  It is not a curse.  It is a blessing.  What???  Let me explain….I'm reading through Deuteronomy right now.  God is constantly telling the Israelites to not forget Him and His commands when they come into the land.  He is reminding them when life is comfortable do not forget Who brought you here.  Do not become independent.  Remember who I am and what I have done….They did not and we can see the consequences as we read through the rest of the Old Testament.  Losing Troy is a reminder to be dependent on God.  It is my thorn.  God is not going to remove because it keeps me dependent on His sufficient grace.  It does NOT mean I have the right to worry or be pessimistic, but instead it reminds me to turn to the One who will give me strength to think, believe, and rest in truth.  I know I can easily become independent in my way of living.   So the accident is way of God keeping me constantly dependent on Him.

         I am learning to be diligent in spending time with my God and believing His Word.  I see promise after promise that I can rest in and that IS peaceful!  Through the loss of Troy, He is ever reminding me of my need to be dependent on Him and that IS for my good!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is God enough for me?

      Five and half years since the accident.  Time goes quickly.  I look back over those years and rejoice in God's working in my life.  I have learned so much about Him in those years.  I have seen His blessings in giving and taking away.  I have had the amazing privilege to be under sound teaching at school, churches, camps, and conferences.  These wonderful opportunities grew my knowledge of God.  This knowledge God used to change many aspects of my daily living.  I say all this to sum up how I have viewed at least the last six months of my life Christian living: lots of head knowledge.  Let's see if I can explain it out a bit more…
       I have grown.  I can look back and see radical differences in my life since September 30, 2009.  I see ups and downs, but always an upward move to becoming more like Christ.  However; the last six months have been a struggle for me in my walk.  I know the right things to say and even do.  It is not that I haven't been growing or feel that I am in a valley.  It hasn't been that drastic.  Instead it has been this slow movement towards doubtful thinking.  After Brogan was born, new sets of fear set in.  The "what if" thinking reared its ugly head again.  I knew how to battle it though this time: Think Truth.  I applied this lesson of thinking truth often over the next year.  I didn't feel victorious though just settled with the idea that I was going to struggle with fear/anxiety.  I thought it would be a constant battle in my mind to keep dispelling the untruths with truths about God.  This struggle has been going on for some time, but it was not overwhelming just a bit discouraging at times.  It wasn't always even there.  The fear would often come and go depending on the circumstances of life.  I mostly chalked it up to: I have walked through tragedy and so now I will always go to worst case scenarios.  At times even thinking, this is part of the scaring/discipline of God in taking Troy home.  Please don't misunderstand, I was not hopeless.  I was resigned and rejoicing in other areas where I saw God growing me.  Fast forward to these last couple of weeks…

        My fear has reared its ugly head a bit more often and more frequently.  Adam and I are going out of town for the first time without Brogan.  My "what if" scenarios have become a broken record in my head.  "What if something happens to us?"  "What if something happens to him when I am across the country?"  Then daily fears will creep into these thoughts.  "What if something happens to this pregnancy?"  "What if we can't sell the house?"  "What if my parenting isn't good enough?"  "What if something happens to me and I can't raise Brogan the way I want?"  "What if something happens to Brogan while he is sleeping in his crib?"  "What if, Adam is late because he was in accident?"  Okay, you get the point of my irrational "what if" thinking pattern.  I know these are not truths and I have to take them captive.  I would pray and ask God for help in not thinking this way and then ask that He make sure none of these happened.  I would quote truths I knew "He will never leave me or His grace is sufficient."  I would do my best to forget the thinking and move on.  This is not hopeful!  I wanted victory not just a resigned attitude to a constant battle.

       I started reading a book with a couple of other ladies these past couple of weeks.  It was one I have read before, but it has been a while.  The content was not new information, but it hit me hard because it was information I knew and was not applying.   I have had two problems these last six months.  Number one problem:  I have knowledge with no application.  I knew truths about God and His ways, but I was not believing them.  I had very much come to a place where my view of God was based on my past or current circumstances instead of what Scripture said.  I didn't believe God was always going to do good.  I was waiting for another loss or trial and I thought that was not a good God.  I didn't believe He would never leave me.  I thought whatever the future held was terrifying because I couldn't control it.  I didn't believe He would be there every step of the way.  I knew truths many of them, but I was NOT believing them.  My fear had grown from just "what if" possibilities to a fear of God and His plans for my life.  I was seeing Him through my circumstantial lens instead of through Scripture.  Number two problem:  I would do better than God with my life.  I was fearful of His plans and complete submission to Him seemed impossible.  I was living not totally surrendered to Him.  My pastor recently made comment about Abraham and Isaac. He was discussing how Abraham was able to come to point of being willing to sacrifice his only son.  He said Abraham had rock-solid faith in God.  I knew at that moment I did not!

          The book has hit me hard in my lack of faith and submission.  Until today, I couldn't see all my sin clearly laid out.  God in His wonderful mercy has laid out my failures and lack of faith.  He has shown me my areas of unbelief.  It is not a fun place to be to see all the filth that is so easily in my heart.  How much that grows when a small sin (thinking "what if" scenarios) is not confessed and forsaken immediately.  I have been growing that unbelief sin for a long time.  I didn't see my need to submit all things always to Him.  I grew in my thinking that "I knew better" and pride took hold of my heart.  The fruit of fear and anxiety have just become more apparent in the last month as new circumstance bring out my wicked heart. So here is my confession: My true fears stem from my pride which is a lack of faith in who God is and what He is doing.  As God has brought me to submission to Him in all things of my life, I know His peace.  He gives peace not found in this world or Adam or Brogan or financial security.  He gives true peace….God is still working.  I have much knowledge I must move from my head to my heart.  I must believe what is true about God and not what I feel.  God is working this in my life as I spend more time with Him.  Not just my checklist time, but truly renewing my mind in His truths.  I desire to say and truly mean like Paul, "I have learned that whatever state I am in to be content."  Paul had constant peace and did not worry because He knew His God.  This is my prayer to know my God intimately not just on the surface or rest in previous knowledge, but to KNOW Him.    I want to "know God well enough to be satisfied that He Himself is enough for me."

      So here is an update on my journey in life.  It is no longer my journey in widowhood.  No, God has changed that, but I am still on a journey towards learning His sufficient grace in all things.  I end these thoughts, thanking God He hasn't stopped working on me and revealing areas where I fall so short of His calling.  I thank Him for the hope I find only in His Word.  I thank Him for using that Word to change me more into the image of His Son.  I still have much growth, but so thankful He is giving me grace to learn to say daily, "He is more than enough!"