It’s been quite a while since my last post and believe me, I certainly haven’t forgotten about this little blog that I felt led to begin nearly 3 years ago. It’s just that I’ve been a bit fuzzy on what I should focus on specifically, and being the ever precautious type of person that I am, I have been frozen somewhat indefinitely. Until this morning.
For quite a while I’ve been on what you might call a difficult, yet good, spiritual journey. You know, the kind of season in life that you wouldn’t ever choose to walk through, but yet wouldn’t trade it for anything because of all that you have learned. Then this morning I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized how God, through this season, has been answering a specific prayer that I began praying over a year and a half ago. I had begun asking the Lord to teach me how to abide in Him consistently. I mean, I knew what it meant to rest in Him for the strength that He promises to give us for each new day, but deep down I struggled doing so more than I would like to admit.
I’ll spare you all of the many, MANY details, but I’d like to share some of the key lessons that God has been teaching me in hopes that it might also help you in your walk of faith.
Exchanging lies for TRUTH
Interestingly enough, one of the main lessons I’ve been learning that has ended up helping me abide with Christ more fully is recognizing the lies I believe. One by one God has been revealing to me these lies and then impressing on me what is true. It has proven to be quite a long process and not a super easy one either. Many of these untruths have been with me a long time, and to be totally honest, I wasn’t even fully aware they were there.
Fear. I’ve been a fearful person since my childhood, even before my father died (shortly after my 10th birthday), but especially more so after that. This has carried with me into adulthood, yet strangely I did not realize how much fear had a grip on me. Following some difficult circumstances the presence of these fears quickly became more obvious and demanded that I address them. Through prayer (as well as the help of a wonderful counselor) God has graciously been helping me see how my thoughts travel quickly to places they shouldn’t go. It has not been easy to go to Him immediately with these fears and ‘take captive every thought’, but as I do I have found that I am able to truly rest and delight in Him more consistently.
Insignificance. God has also made me aware of how often my thoughts berate me with the message that what I do lacks any real value to Him. Although this is something I’m still working through there have been two strong messages of truth that God has graciously given to me.
Firstly. Since I battle a lot with the feeling that what I do is trivial, I’ve often asked the Lord if there is something else specifically that I should be doing for Him. One day while praying about this He impressed on me to do the things I love to do (i.e. caring for my home, creating, etc.), but ‘take Me with you’. This has profoundly stuck with me and aligns with so many scriptural truths, like 1 Cor. 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” For some reason I want to separate what I assume to be ‘sacred’ works from ‘secular’ works but I am realizing that I’m drawing a line where God didn’t intend for one to be drawn. Focusing on really doing everything that I do for Jesus has helped change my perspective and loosen the chains of shame and bondage for not ‘doing more’.
Secondly. Last October I visited my daughter in St. Louis for a week and she asked if I’d help her decorate her new home for fall. We had just gone on a walk in a nearby park and there were hundreds of pinecones on the ground so I went back the next day when she was at work and got enough to make her a wreath for her door. Unfortunately, it had been very rainy and the pinecones were sticky and closed, they actually looked more like soggy cigars. I began soaking them in the sink, then baking them in the oven to fully dry. The oven heat opened them up so pretty, all they needed after that was a light brushing to remove the remaining dirt and they were absolutely perfect. I was SO excited about this whole process because of how pretty they were becoming I was actually giddy! As I was holding up the before and after version, one a sticky, gooey blob, the other a perfectly beautiful pinecone, I heard these words… “Isn’t there something more important you should be doing than this, just sitting here delighting in a silly PINE CONE?!?” For the first time ever I recognized this as not my thought and refuted it and God immediately impressed on me something SO profound. He whispered, ‘Judi, this is how I delight in you, cleaning you, refining you.’ I was blown away and I will NEVER forget it. The image of the gooey pinecone. The process of heating it to strip away the sap and impurities. The gentle brushing to clean it off and then my joy as I saw it become beautiful. He refines US in this way, through trials that are like fire, yes, but he allows us to walk through this to make us more like Him and He does so with great, great love.
There’s obviously a bunch more I could say about this. It’s been many months of transforming 51 years of fearful and wrong thinking (with more to go). My main take away is this. One, when God says ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’, He means it. Literally. Our minds are so powerful and they can either attempt to kill us everyday or shine life into our souls! Two, this isn’t something we should do alone. God knows us better than we know ourselves! We were made to delight and abide in Him. If you struggle as I have to do this, it may be because deep within you there are lies that you have believed. Ask God to be the Great Physician in your heart and mind and begin to reveal to you these lies and replace them with His truth. There is nothing more life giving than being set free to delight and rest in the God who made you.