"This valley is so deep, I can barley see the sun, I cry out for mercy Lord, and You lift me up again!" I so enjoy Audio Adrenaline. I actually like a whole lot of Christian bands, but this just happens to be the song I'm listening to right now (titled "Get Down" for those that are curious).
Gosh, where to start on what God has been showing me and teaching me lately. I'll start out by saying that I will not make a sweeping generalization, because the only person I know how anything feels like is me, so if this speaks to your heart, praise the Lord! If it doesn't, then maybe this will expand your thinking and bring someone else to mind!
So, when I am purposeful about getting in the Word, spending time in silence (mind and mouth silence - hard to do - trust me - I know) just listening for God to speak into me, praying, and being in community with other believers (not just the kind you pass in the hallway at church on your way to Mi Cocina or McDonalds), I grow....A LOT. This is why it is sometimes hard for me to post a blog because I don't know what to say or how to express what God has impressed on my heart.
Frankly, I also pray before posting so I can make sure that my words are salt and light and not death and destruction.
So tonight a thought occurred to me that may offend some, but, well, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." John 16:33. That's something my son learned and memorized from church. I LOVE that he is doing scripture memorization! It encourages me to learn with him! It also helps him hide God's Word in his heart for those times of trouble!
On with it then. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 - NIV(1984). A thought occurred to me as I was churning on this tonight. How EASY is it for non-believers to blend in with this world. And how pitifully hard it is for Jesus seeking people to move through this world. Impacting this world for God's glory (and trying to figure out how to not take credit for every good thing in our lives - something that ever Christian I know struggles with - even if it is once every ten years or so ;) )
God asks His people to not conform to the patterns of this world. What are the patterns? (Forgive me if I side-step some hot button current affairs in this list): Vulgarity, addiction, obesity, self-centeredness, judgmental attitudes, self-serving attitudes (maybe goes along with self-centered?)....and the list goes on. As a Christian, I am called to be selfless, loving, caring, and be salt and light to the world around me. One by one, God is so very graciously working my addictions out of me. I don't hardly drink (and I no longer find any fun in being drunk), I have not smoked in 5 months and a 1 day as of today (!!!!), I have overcome the cycle of loneliness, and God is working on a list of other things with me, but today I feel more hopeful than I think I ever have in those other things.
Why? Because last night I came to realize that I don't have to be ashamed for my shortfalls. I'm not ashamed because I am finally opening my eyes nice and wide to the fact that I HAVE faults and that God loves me enough to work through them with me...and that He is PATIENT. I also realize that shame isn't from God. It's not. Shame is from the enemy that wants to keep rubbing my face in the same excrement to remind me, "Remember what you did?" "Remember those horrible things you said?" "God can't love someone like you that has all these faults, that has done all these things." "Remember what that person did to you? How can you forgive them??"
No, shame and regret are not emotions from God. How do I know? Because God loves. Above all, He is love. I'm not saying that God isn't vengeful, because, OH BOY - I have read most of the Old Testament as well as most of the New Testament and I have a very healthy fear of God's vengeance (especially when it comes to willfull sinning), but I have seen too many things work out in my life to be anything but grateful for God's grace and love for me. I can't deny it. Had I gotten what I deserved, I certainly wouldn't be sitting where I am with the son that I have and the things that I have and the amazing friends that I have. Because I don't deserve ANY of it. Having this realization, "things" have started having less and less hold on me. I'd rather just have the bare necessities, knowing that others were able to have because of my giving it up.
I guess I've started worshiping the Creator over the created. :) God gives us stuff because He knows that stuff makes us happy. This fallen world just perverts it into making idols out of "stuff" and distracting us from God's good, pleasing and perfect will.
"A big big house, with lots and lots of room. A big big table, with lots and lots of food. A big big yard, where we can play football. A big big house...It's my Father's house." I love that I am ending this post on this song. Another Audio Adrenalin song at that! ("Big House"). I love that I serve a God that loves. A God that extends Grace. A God that is patient. A God that wants only His good and perfect name to be glorified, and not a fallible human to be glorified.
God bless each of you my friends!