March 15, 2015

Pushing Past Hardship

I am stressed. I am oppressed. I am overwhelmed. I am exhausted. I am worn out. I am pressured to the point of explosion -- yet -- I find the strength to carry on. How is this possible? How is this so?

Today, I woke up with the worst headache. Actually, I went to bed with the headache, and it never did subside, even though I took Ibuprofen for it around 3:30 a.m. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, it was 10:20 a.m., too late to make it to church (at SBC or at Paradise). I had told my parents I would go with them at 8:30, but there was no way that I could do that and still function normally. I am feeling guilty because I have missed so many Sundays, and I know how important it is for me -- for my well-being -- to faithfully attend church. I need the worship experience, the good preaching and teaching, and I need the fellowship and friendship of the body of Christ. Still, I struggle to find a place to attend, and I have these feelings of being unwell whenever I think about attending either place. It is like the Lord doesn't want me to go either place, yet I know that He does want me to go to church, I just get the feeling that these are "closed doors" to me. I think the Lord is calling me to move on, to move to a different church, to a different place. Perhaps He has a ministry in mind for me or some opportunity for me to experience -- I don't know -- I just feel like I am stuck in "no man's land," that place in between here and there. I don't like it, and I don't understand why I am here, how I got here, and why I cannot seem to move forward.

As I consider my life today, one thing is for sure -- I may not have answers to my current predicament, but I do have confidence in the One who holds the keys to my future. I cannot see beyond my nose (truthfully) so it is silly for me to think that I can see further down the road. I am blessed with foresight, a gifting of the Holy Spirit, that allows me to see connections, patterns, and other details that often enable interpretation of future events. It is not that I can see the future, but rather I am able to see the past and then determine possible outcomes for future success. Sometimes, though, my vision is clouded. Sometimes I am prohibited from seeing anything further. I believe this is the Lord's doing and that when this happens it is because He desires me to trust Him and to rely on Him for His judgment rather than to lean on my own understanding or interpretation of events. I do this normally, I mean, I try to do this normally. I find that my foresight kicks in often, and most of the time, the information gleaned is helpful for me to put forth solutions or to encourage behavior change, etc. Today, though, I feel constrained as though I am looking into a milky film or deep fog. I cannot see very far, and that feeling is unsettling to me. Still, I wait for the fog to lift and for the film to clear. I trust Him, and I rely and lean upon Him today. He is good, so very good to me.

I spent quite a bit of time this morning in prayer, like the "down on your knees" kind of prayer. I confessed my stubbornness to the Lord, my unwillingness to go where He is sending me, and the fact that I was tired, so very tired, of all the trials, the tribulations, and the testing that I am experiencing right now. Of course, I came to Him, and I had to let it all go, all of it. I had to accept the fact that my refusal to do what the Lord was asking me to do, calling me to do, was resulting in my inner being feeling chaotic, confused, and as though I had walked into a conundrum. I know this feeling well. The peace of the Lord tells me that I am where I belong. Confusion, chaos or a sense of befuddlement tell me that either I have walked the wrong way or that I am thinking of walking the wrong way. Needless to say, I confessed all of this to the Lord, and through that time of prayer, I realized that it was up to me to choose which way to go -- to choose to follow the Lord or to choose to remain in my own way.

I love the Lord, of course I do. Still, I seem to choose my own way, especially when I am confronted with a choice that seems unpleasant or uncomfortable. I lay down my way, I confess "not my way, Lord, but your will be done" over and over again. Nonetheless, I still struggle. This struggle in my view is because I say one thing, but in my heart I do another. Yes, this is the crux of the battle. I say "yes" with my head, but in my heart, I am willfully stubborn, and I say "no way, I will not go!" He knows this about me, and He patiently waits for me to accept my behavior and my actions. He is good to wait for me, so very good. Sometimes, He waits, and I experience nothing more than a slight pinch to remind me of my bullheaded obstinance. Other times, I get a hard rub (like between a rock and a hard space) where my life feels the hard bite reminding me that I am walking close to the line, close to full-on disobedience (like Jonah). It is in these hard times when I fall and when I crumble beneath the weight of my choices.

So as I sit here preparing to finish my work, to attend to my studies, and to put all this into perspective, I know this: God has a great plan for my life, and in that plan, He has specific things for me to do, places for me to go, and people for me to meet. If I choose to disobey and not go, then I forfeit the blessing that comes with obedience. I feel that right now I am stuck in this in between place because I have not fully committed to going where He is leading me. I have said in my head that I would go, but my heart is saying otherwise. It is not just a contrary spirit, but rather it is a stubborn refusal that says "I do not trust you, Lord. I don't believe what you are saying is true." I am saying that the Lord doesn't know what He is doing, and in short, I know what is best for me, for my life, for my future.

I know it is wrong for me to do this, and every single time this happens to me (and it has been many times previously), I find myself in this exact same place, this exact same place. Yes, I have a hard head. I am stubborn. I am determined. I am in control. I am all of these things, and while they can be a good thing, a very good thing, they also can run amok unless surrendered to the Lord. It is foolish of me to behave this way. I know better. I know better.

Dear Lord,

Today, I have looked the enemy in the eye, and I have seen the battlefield where I stand. I know that I must go where you send me, regardless of the outcome or what I can see clearly ahead of me. I must move. I must walk on. I must let go. I must go. I ask now for your forgiveness so I can pick up my cross and go. I ask for your help so that I can trust you, rely upon you, lean on and abide in you. May your Word and your Will come to pass in my life today. I let go, Lord. I let go.

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