May 31, 2015

Understanding How It Is To Be

It is a very hot and sunny day in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a blessed Sunday afternoon, and I am sitting at the computer getting ready to complete some of my school assignments due this week (by tomorrow). I spent the morning at church, and then went out to lunch with my parents. The day passed by quickly and now it is 3:21 p.m., and I feel as though I haven't accomplished as much as I had hope to by this time today. Oh well...God be praised, I know His timing is perfect. I actually did take care of some business -- technical business -- getting myself ready for my trip to VA next week, so I think that should count as productive work (LOL!)

This day has been interesting for me. I have a lot on my mind right now, most of it dealing with some issues that I have with my old church, Paradise, where I attended today. I have blogged about this before so I won't go into a lot of detail right now, but suffice it to say that I am frustrated about some things I see, the way the church is being run, and the changes that have been made since we lost our pastoral staff last year. I don't mean to fault anyone, and after today's message on not judging one another, I feel convicted that I have these feelings inside of me. I mean, shouldn't we be happy to worship in peace and in freedom, and not focus on the pastor or the worship experience? My heart knows that this answer is a resounding 'yes,' but there is this nagging feeling inside of me that is saying what I see is something of concern, and that I am not judging for the sake of judging, but rather I am being prompted by the Holy Spirit to correct in love. Yes, Jimmy Farley, preached today on the Sermon on the Mount, and he focused on this section (not judging). One of the things that I noted was this idea that all correction within the church should be prompted by the Holy Spirit, and it should be lead by those who the Spirit of Love is motivating to give correction.

Furthermore, this correction is to be in love, and with the outcome of restoration and not punishment. I walked away this morning thinking that what I feel inside of me is not good, that I am uncomfortable with what I see, and how this feeling is not going away. I have waited, I have prayed, and I have sought the Lord for His guidance, and so far the feeling is still with me.

Moreover, every Sunday I go over there to worship, I feel worse and worse. I just have this sinking feeling, a 'doom and gloom' that seems to say "this is not going well for them, this is not the way to go." Yet, I am not in a position of authority there nor am I an active member anymore (due to my school/work/life balance). I try to go and support the ministry weekly, but sometimes I end up missing so that I can finish assignments or grade papers. I know that my life is out of whack right now, but it is temporary only. This is not a permanent condition rather it is a temporary inconvenience brought on by graduate school. Still, I feel incompetent at times to offer any advice or to direct or to help serve. I just feel that I should keep my mouth shut and not say anything, yet my heart struggles with what I see, and my head wonders about what is going on, and in the end, I feel miserable and sad.

After I left church today, I went to lunch with my parents, and I listened to them speak. They are dissatisfied too, but they are not willing to go to another church because of their age and their friends. I, on the other hand, don't feel so connected here anymore since my son is now over at Scottsdale Bible Church. I am not sure I want to go there either -- that is a tough place to fellowship since my history is so tied there (PD - pre-divorce), and I don't feel that I fit in with that crowd anymore. I am praying for the Lord to open up an opportunity for me because I need to go somewhere and I need to get this resolved soon. The good news is that this next Sunday, I am in VA Beach. This will give me a break, and some time to decide what to do. I am hoping the Lord will provide an answer to me while I am gone. It will be good to know His will on this matter so I can relax and move forward in my spiritual life.

So what do I do now, where do I go, and how do I go about going from this place to the next?

I have been a person in transition for so long now, and I have struggled trying to fit into this new life the Lord has given to me. I am so vastly different than before, I mean, I am like a whole different person now. I have different dreams, ambitions, desires, and hopes. My whole life is brand new, and the person that I am has been remade according to His will, His plan, and the desires He has for my life. I am so amazed at what God has done with me, how He has changed me, remade me, rekindled desires in my life, and given to me new hope for a bright future. I am excited at what He is doing, how He is moving in my life, and where He is taking me. I love the Lord so much, and today especially, I feel filled with His grace and mercy. I know the plans He has for my life are good, so very good. He is my God, my King, and I love Him with my whole heart. He is good, so very good, and all the time, He is so very good!

I started to think about my life today, how far I have come, and how far I still have to go. I realize that to move forward in the plans the Lord has for me, I have to let go of the past, all those things that seek to hold me down and keep me from moving forward. I cannot move while I am still holding on tightly to the things that are no longer part of my life. Let me explain...

Last night, I had a conversation with my good friend. We try to talk to each other daily, and some times, we discuss deep topics of concern to family, friends, or the church (as a whole). I think one of things I love about this relationship is that we can talk about anything that crosses our minds. I mean, even icky difficult or sensitive subjects, and that is amazing in my view. Very rarely can you have an adult conversation whereby you discuss personal issues or concerns without fear of judgment or condemnation. Moreover, we are "free to disagree" about opinions, and I love that fact! We each can say what we feel, think or know, and the other person can engage in dialogue that seeks to understand, rather than debate or persuade. My friend and I enjoy this kind of scholarly discussion, and it has formed a significant part of our relationship. I mean, I have a friend who thinks deeply like me, who likes to discuss really strange, hard, and at times unpleasant things, all without getting upset or angry or feeling that our views are unheard. I am blessed, so vitally blessed.

This relationship, this special friendship, means so much to me. In fact, I would probably describe this friendship as one-of-a-kind because I have never experienced such compatibility with another person. The funny thing is that we are not alike, really we are not. He is extroverted, and I am introverted. He sees the world differently than I do, but our views are complementary. We complement one another, and in that, there is acceptance and understanding of our unique gifts, talents, and callings of the Lord. God has called him one way, and me another, yet our callings are compatible. We seem to be able to walk together without causing each other much fuss (as he likes to say). I am blessed in that I can be free to be me, and that is something I haven't been able to do in a really long, long while. God knew that I needed someone like this to lift me up, to help me see my way through this transition time in my life, and to give me a second opinion, a trusted and relied upon opinion. I value his advice, his friendship, and most of all, his God-given uniqueness that I find so charming, disarming, and wonderful -- all at the same time!

All of this to say, that I have been thinking about letting go of the past, of the things that tie me to this place here in Phoenix. I pray about this often, and still I find that I struggle to let some things go. For example, today my Mom made a remark about moving to another state. My Dad will say this too on occasion, rather in passing, but neither of them actually consider doing anything about it. Moreover, rarely will they even factor in my will, my plans or my desires in the matter. They will say something like "lets move to Kentucky" or "California" or some place else. They don't say, "Carol, where do you think the Lord wants you to move?" No, they assume that I will follow them, and that I will go wherever they think it is best for them to go.

Now, I won't do that, of course, because I am not following after anyone, but only the Lord. Still, it would be good if they would ask me "Do you see yourself staying here (in AZ) for the next year or two?" or "Where do you think you might go when you graduate?" I am sure they don't want to know the truth, but it gets harder and harder for me to not say anything  at all. I don't want to upset them, but my heart wants to scream out, "Mom and Dad, the Lord is sending me (____,) and I am going as soon as He provides a way for me to go." Yes, I want this out in the open, and I want to start planning this move, but for now, I feel that I don't know enough to proclaim this way or that way. Not yet, I mean, not yet. I am content to wait on the Lord, to wait for His movement, but I cannot keep this silence much longer. My heart wants to burst wide open, and just get on with it, with moving, with going, with following after the Lord. Sigh...

The days are getting difficult, and events are changing and causing me to think about what might be down the road for me and my parents. A case in point -- just Friday -- my Mom fell again. This is the second time in about a month that she has fallen and was not able to get up on her own. This is what happens when people get to be my parents age, they tend to fall often, and thankfully she was okay, and didn't suffer any injury. It was good I was here to help, but I thought "what if this happens while I am at work?" Yes, the days are coming when this is going to be an issue for us all. I need to be prepared for this day because it is coming soon, very soon. I know the Lord has a way for me to go, but what will happen to my parents? It is a challenge for me because they do not want to follow me. They want me to go after them, and that is an impossibility. I will go where the Lord intends for me to minister, to serve, and to live. He is my Lord, and I do not seek to follow after my parents wishes, dreams or desires. No, I will not please people. I will please God, and that means I live a submitted, a yielded, and a ransomed life unto His Name and for His Praise and His Honor.

I am resting now, abiding in the Lord, and in His provision. I let go of the past, all those things I hold onto, and I follow after my Lord with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength! You are healer, Lord. You are provider, Lord. You are my King, my Shepherd, my Ransom, my Savior. I love you love, Lord, I love you!

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