My Wants Vs God’s Will

Recently I heard a song that touched my heart. The theme was embracing God’s will even when it seems that what He has allowed brings heartbreak.

I found out later that the song was written after the songwriter experienced a miscarriage.

One line spoke of our broken hearts possibly being God’s will—that it’s part of His plan.

I thought of all the heartaches and heartbreaks I have had in my life. Could it be God’s will that my heart break? Again and again?

What I do know is that my heartbreaks have brought me closer to Him.

I think of the verse that helped bring me through those times of heartbreak, especially after my brother’s suicide, Psalm 147:3, which says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].” (AMPC)

Another verse about broken hearts is Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

Because this is a fallen world, we all will experience things that break our hearts. What I need to consider is this: what am I going to do with my broken heart? At my job I work with people who choose drugs and alcohol to deal with heartbreaking circumstances. I’ve tried that route myself, and it is a dead end, which only increases the pain.

At times I’ve turned to other things of this world to deal with my broken heart. I wanted my husband to heal my broken heart when I married him and at various times over the years. I turned to food, the accumulation of possessions, the approval of people.

These just make my “heart” condition worse.

I’ve discovered that turning to God is the only answer to my broken heart. Doing His will after I don’t get what I want is the only way to maintain hope and receive healing when my life doesn’t turn out the way I had planned.

My plans did not include loved ones turning away from the Lord. They did not include my own and family members’ battles with physical and mental illness. I did not want severe struggles in our marriage and in other relationships. What I wanted was a smooth life. What I received was a rough one with challenges that have some days seemed insurmountable.

But as I embrace “Your will be done,” instead of going my own way when God refuses to give me what I want, victory comes. He shows me His way. He reveals His will.

And so today and in the days ahead with trials continuing to challenge me, I stand firm on following the Lord and embracing His will.

How about you?

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCR_Fa8YV2U

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lord, Restore My Soul

Here is a repost of a blog I posted on July 9, 2012.This post touched me anew as once again I need restoration. I’m praising God that He is faithful to restore us as we cry out to Him. I’ve added a song that’s new to me called “Restore Me” by Anthony Evans.

This week I’m thinking about the word “restore” again.

The reason is I’ve really needed restoration lately.

During the sermon on Sunday, our pastor asked us to look at some verses in James 5. One of them was verse 16 which spoke of being restored. This was in the Amplified version of the Bible, which I had with me.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].…

Lately for hours at a time I’ve been in trouble in my thinking, I’ve embraced negative emotions, and I’ve fought against instead of embracing God’s will. Why? Because I’ve slipped out of a spiritual tone of mind and heart and found myself being ruled by what I thought, felt, and wanted.

I keep slip/sliding into this bad place because I’m disappointed by the behavior of someone claiming to be a Christian who seems to have lost their spiritual tone of mind and heart. I’m discovering how easily I abandon my spiritual way of thinking and living when I’m too much in the company of those who don’t operate from a Christ-centered mindset.

I’m quick to judge them and say, “How can they be that way?”  Yet I see how rapidly I can become just like them—especially when I’m interacting with them, and they’re behaving badly. Their yelling at me, putting me down, or refusing to listen to what I have to say can cause me to do  the same in return. But I can’t blame them for my bad behavior. I can choose another course—to be led by the Spirit.

Even today when someone lashed out at me when I tried to have a discussion, I sensed myself sinking again inside. I felt immediately offended and wanted to seek revenge instead of remembering that

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)

Although I didn’t draw my sword to slash back at the other person with words, I did so in my mind. And I saw how quickly I lost any sense of a godly state of mind.

“O Lord, please restore my soul,” has been my prayer this week. It is my prayer at this moment. A little while ago I sent out an email to praying friends confessing my fall and asking that they join me in my prayer to be restored to a spiritual tone of mind and heart.

Now comes the waiting to be restored. I’m lying down in this green pasture beside still waters, and I’m believing God’s promise for restoration.

How about you? Do you believe in God’s promise and power to restore?

Restore Me by Anthony Evans

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Don’t Flip Your Switch

Not long ago someone I love suddenly switched from having a calm conversation with me to lashing out in anger. This came without warning, and the anger was over something minute—at least from my perspective.

As that person went from calmness to anger in a flash, I sensed there was a similar switch that could happen in me—from listening calmly to being bitter because of the anger directed at me in a way that seemed unjust.

This person’s anger often erupted due to his not overcoming traumas from the past, and something (I could rarely determine what that something was going to be) that was said or done would trigger an angry response.

At that moment, I realized I had a choice. I could choose not to let the switch be activated in me just because it was in this other person. His lack of dealing with past trauma brought drama, but I could choose not to carry the drama forward.

It is true that one of the main traumas from my childhood was people becoming unjustly angry at me and even verbally abusive because of their overwhelming stressors and their own traumas from the past. Back then I became bitter, and unforgiveness ruled my life. But God has healed me of that.

So I no longer needed to be bound to this automatic response from my childhood.

As I reflected on this, I realized that many times in my present relationships as soon as the “switch was flipped” in regard to anger in the other person, I automatically let the bitterness switch be flipped in me.

Also, I realized that for so long I spent much time and energy trying to prevent that switch from being flipped in others. Then I would feel frustrated that I couldn’t do it. No matter how great my efforts, anger still poured out. Certainly I’m a failure, I thought.

The conclusion I came to is that I cannot keep the switch from being flipped in another person, but I can choose to not allow the switched to be flipped in me. I’m not a failure when I fail to keep another person from getting angry at me, but only when I fail to have a godly response.

There are two switches, but I only have control over one—my own.

Too many times I can try to blame the other person when I have a negative reaction in regard to someone lashing out at me. “If you hadn’t lashed out in anger, I would not have had to be bitter in my response to you.” But God gives me the grace to have a godly response.

In fact, at any given moment and in every situation I can choose to have a loving response.

Jesus, who was perfect, always chose the godly response when He was on this earth. That response–unlike mine which can be fueled by fear, hurt, or frustration—was directed by love.

The closer I am to Jesus and as I allow Him to fully heal me of deep hurts, the more I can allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than my flesh, and the more often I will have a loved-filled, Jesuslike response—even to negative behavior.

This verse reminds me of that: Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ESV

The good news is that if I fail to show a godly response, I can remain humbly aware and quickly say, “I’m sorry that I reacted in a negative way to your anger. Something must be bothering you today. Do you want to talk about it?”

I remember a friend told me a saying years ago that has stayed with me. It went something like this, “When her cup is jostled, Jesus pours out.”

That’s what I want others to see in me.

“What Matters Most” by Cheri Keaggy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnGt3g6hu80

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Dealing With Cons and Cares

Recently when I felt badly rejected by those I love, I realized that four individuals seem to come against me on a regular basis. There are different reasons for this—many centered on issues they have failed to deal with or bring before the Lord.

As I thought of them coming against me, these “con” words came to mind:

Contrariness: the quality of being someone who intentionally wants to disagree with and annoy other people.

Condescension: behaving in a way which shows you consider yourself to be better or more intelligent than other people.

Contempt: a strong feeling of lack of respect for someone or something.

Condemnation: express complete disapproval of, typically in public

Until that moment, I had not realized how often these actions were part of how these four treated me.

At first I thought How dare they? and What in the world am I going to do about this? even though this had been going on for years.

Once I got over my indignation, another thought occurred to me. In these four relationships I had acted out these four “con” words toward these people at one time or another. With two of them, it was because they had treated me that way first, and I was retaliating. The other two I hated to admit that at times I was the initiator of these behaviors because this was my response to their rebellion against the Lord.

Another “con”  on my part was that I too often tried to control these four people in an effort to get them to do or think right, and the four above actions were connected to that controlling behavior.

The bottom line is the Lord impressed on me that whether they started it or not, I was not to return evil for evil–contrariness for contrariness, condescension for condescension, contempt for contempt, condemnation for condemnation.

Here is how the Bible says it: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Romans 12:17 NIV

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Here is what the Lord spoke to my heart after praying about the matter: LET ME EMPOWER YOU TO STOP RETURNING EVIL FOR EVIL. THERE IS MUCH EVIL COMING YOUR WAY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CALL ON ME TO DEAL WITH HURT, AND HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. LET ME EMPOWER YOU TO SAY NOTHING. EACH OF THESE IS INCAPABLE OF LISTENING. POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO ME. I AM LISTENING. CRY OUT TO ME. CRY YOUR TEARS BEFORE ME. DO NOT TURN TO THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD TO DEAL WITH PAIN, ANGER, OR DEPRESSION. FOOD WILL NOT HELP. BUYING THINGS WILL NOT HELP. EXERCISE PROFITS ONLY A LITTLE, BUT WILL NOT HELP TO HEAL THE DEEP HURTS OF YOUR SOUL. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU. I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH THE RIGHT HAND OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS. REJECT LIES FROM THESE FOUR FOES. RECEIVE MY TRUTH. RECEIVE MY PEACE. RECEIVE MY JOY.

This evening one of these four spoke against me in a condescending manner. Instead of retaliating, I was able to be silent and call out to the Lord and pray for this one that her hurts would be healed.

Then I thought of something I heard in a song on the radio that I need to do consistently in regard to these relationships rather than coming against those who come against me: “I will cast my cares on You.” I care about these people, and I’m hurt deeply when at moments it seems they don’t care about me. I want to fix things between us and between them and the Lord, but I can’t. It’s essential to cry out to the One who cares deeply for all of us and is able to heal me and them.

“Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKuAMmTqUbs

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Facing Trials Effectively

Someone I know and love is going through a difficult trial. Being with this person has sometimes been hard because of his rejections of others as he suffers.

As I observed what this person was going through, I saw three things that seemed to be making matters worse.

These are self-pity, impatience, and negativity. As I looked at the beginning of those three words, I saw that it spelled SIN.

Then I thought of the opposite of those three words. They are thankfulness to replace self-pity, adoration to counter the negativity, and patience to come against the impatience. The beginning letters of those words spelled TAP.

My conclusion: If we hold on to the SIN of giving in to self-pity, impatience, and negativity during trials, life will seem unbearable, and discouragement will be the result.

However if we replace these with thankfulness, adoration (or praise) of God, and patience, we can TAP into God’s power, and He will help us to endure and face our trial with faith. Then our trial will have a powerful effect on our souls.

At first I judged this individual, but then I realized that my natural response (and perhaps every human being’s response) to trials is self-pity, impatience, and negativity. I even saw that as I was sharing this trial with my loved one, I was giving in to these three when interacting. I was feeling sorry for myself for being treated badly. I was impatient for this trial to be over because of how it was affecting me. Negativity was beginning to take over when I spoke to and of this person.

I, too, need to embrace thankfulness, adoration, and patience as I go through trials of my own or as other people’s trials affect me.

Whenever I think of trials I remember this verse in James:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (James 1:2 NIV)

I’m not there yet, but my heart’s desire is to effectively go through trials and let them do a work in me and draw me closer to the Lord and cause me to be the kind of Christian He wants me to be: “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4)

I told my loved one about choosing between SIN and TAP. He received what I said and even apologized recently for “being so negative” as he continued to battle discouragement in regard to his trial.

The good news about trials is that God wants to help us through them and will do so as we call out to Him. My goal is to make the most of every trial He sends my way and to assist my fellow Christians to do the same.

“When Trials Come” by Keith and Kristyn Getty

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Remembering His Beauty

This past Friday I had the privilege of seeing Phil Wickham in concert.

About a week before, I thought of different Christian singers that I would like to see in person. I typed his name into Google inquiring about his concert schedule.

I discovered that he was going to be at a church near my home on Friday, June 17. There were some obstacles to going to the concert, but the Lord cleared them out of the way. Also, a friend was available to go to the concert with me–even with late notice.

One song that touched me deeply that evening was “You’re Beautiful.”

As I sang along with Phil and the audience the words, “You’re beautiful,” over and over, I thought of how too many times I focus on the ugly things of this world.

One of those ugly things was the recent shooting in Orlando. Watching the news can bring up any number of other horrendous happenings in this world. Or I can focus on the bad that has happened to me or to those I love. It’s one thing to find out about them, but it’s another to dwell on them, worry about them, let fear take over because of them–leaving God out of my thinking.

I was reminded by that song to keep my focus on the beauty of Jesus and all the beautiful happenings in my life and in this world because of Him.

When I sank into depression recently, I wasn’t doing that. My last posting here was about how God corrected me—how He changed my perspective.

Over and over He brings me back to my problem with perspective—with keeping my focus on that which brings me down instead of on what lifts me up—namely Him, who He is and all He has done for me and for all of us.

There is nothing in this world or in my life that can change how beautiful the Lord is. And if I’m honest, I know that I can see it even more in contrast to the ugly things in this world as I invite Him into each heartbreak and hard time.

Often it seems that those around me are communicating, “Look at the ugly things of this world.” Sometimes I pass on that message instead of seeing and saying, “Look how beautiful the Lord is.”

Psalm 27:4 came to mind today as I thought about the beauty of the Lord. I like the way the Amplified Bible puts it:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.” AMPC

I’m thinking that this is one reason I like Christian singers and praise songs. They turn my mind and heart back to the beauty of the Lord.

Phil Wickham and his song “You’re Beautiful” did that for me this past Friday.

I’m praying that I’ll keep my spiritual eyes focused on His beauty in the days and weeks ahead—no matter what happens in my life and in this world. That’s the place where I can experience joy.

“You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZEltZXQpuM

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Too Blessed To Stay Depressed

Recently depression washed over me like a tidal wave.

What contributed to my being thrown down by this wave of sadness was receiving bad news from several sources: a friend’s daughter had suddenly become ill and was going to die, a cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend was killed in a car accident, someone had come to the home of a loved one and threatened him with a gun.

Then there were disturbing news stories–five bicyclists were killed by a hit and run driver in Michigan, a mother of four died while on the beach after an umbrella came out of the sand and was hurled through the air by the wind striking her in the chest triggering a heart attack and then death. Another disturbing news story was that of the Stanford Olympic-hopeful swimmer/rapist who, encouraged by his father, refused to take responsibility for his crime and seemed to view himself as a victim and showed no remorse. Then to add insult to her injury the judge gave him a light sentence.

My heart went out to the true victim who courageously confronted her rapist in the courtroom. This story brought back memories of my lack of courage when I was raped in my college years being given a date rape drug by someone I saw as a friend. I did not go to the police but instead blamed myself for being stupid and hanging out with someone I knew took drugs.

Also on this day of depression several people had rejected me in various ways. Add to that not sleeping very well in recent days.

Here I was on a staycation on Clearwater Beach getting “away” to complete some writing projects with my daughter (she’s a writer too), and instead of enjoying being in one of my favorite places on earth—near the beach—I began to wallow in self-pity.

My daughter was staying overnight at her house on this particular day, so being alone and feeling lonely added to the problem.

The bottom line is that I was focusing on negatives. I hadn’t prayed yet that day as thoughts of Why should I pray? My life is filled with unanswered prayers went through my mind. My Bible lay on the coffee table unopened when I usually read the Word every morning. Instead I had turned to the world’s food instead of the food of the Word to deal with my emotions, which caused me to sink deeper.

Working on my writing seemed impossible, and the passion I felt for my projects the day before dissolved into dust, and I even wondered if I was deluding myself as I wrote.

I should have known that the enemy was involved in this attack of depression. It seems that any time I sit down to write God’s truth, the enemy can be right there trying to fill my mind with lies. On this day, I let down my guard and listened.

Finally, I called out to God for help. On my computer, I typed out all the things that were bothering me and gave the list to the Lord. Blessings came to mind, and I rejoiced over how good God had been to me over the years. Instead of focusing on bad news, God turned my mind to the Good News of the Gospel and how it and He had transformed my life. Here is part of the prayer I wrote:

Lord, I give all of these issues to You. Please help me not to focus on the negative. Let me keep my focus on You rather than on my problems, the problems of people I love, and the problems of the church and of this world.

I recalled how earlier that week a reader of my blog had written telling me how deeply depressed she was. I confessed that before sending her words of encouragement, pride had entered in as I thought then how I could never sink that low again. Perhaps God had allowed this battle with depression to show me how easily I could succumb if I didn’t stay on guard and to give me compassion for those who battled ongoing severe depression.

It was already evening when I turned to the Lord, and I forced myself to go down to the pier/beach. I brought my guitar and played and sang God songs for the people walking by. I felt I was partly singing to myself the words I needed to hear:  “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer…”

Good things happened: there was a beautiful sunset. There was a rainbow. The ocean breezes encouraged me like the embrace of a close friend. I saw two street performer acts, which were good, and I laughed at the humor of these young men. A lady said she liked the “Jesus Is The Anchor of My Soul” shirt I was wearing.

The next morning after a time of reading the Word and prayer, I wrote, “Lord, I’m listening” and then the following came to my mind:

ELAINE, DO NOT FRET OR WORRY. I AM STILL IN CONTROL. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE ENEMY WHO DESIRES TO DISCOURAGE YOU, SO YOU WILL NOT DO MY WILL, AND SO YOU WILL STOP BELIEVING THAT I LOVE YOU, THAT I HAVE AN EXCELLENT PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE, AND THAT THE BEST IS YET TO COME. DO NOT BELIEVE HIS LIES. BELIEVE WHAT I SPEAK TO YOU. LISTEN DAILY FOR MY VOICE. DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO SINK INTO DEPRESSION. LEARN TO SING “TRUST IN YOU” BY LAUREN DAIGLE. REMEMBER THAT I AM FOR YOU AND NOT AGAINST YOU. I AM NOT BLAMING YOU OR SHAMING YOU. THAT IS COMING FROM THE ENEMY. REST IN PEACE.

Once again I couldn’t help but think of the verse that often has come to mind on the other side of a bout with depression, which David wrote on the other side of his (See verses 1-4):

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

“Blessed” by Martina McBride

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hqk92xjeYU

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 5 Comments