Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:14-16

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Cocoon, my struggle.

It has been a while since my last written post. I have been keeping myself busy. Sometimes it is good that I am, but I also do need to free up my time for the more important things in life (quality time in the Word and with Him). It is a struggle I am sure that every brother and sister in Christ has. And so because I lean towards delaying and putting things off, I have forced myself into a relentless pursuit of precious time with my Saviour. Certainly, it has not been "a walk in the park" and has been difficult for me to change my bad habits, replacing them with these most excellent habits.

I've decided that I must begin going to bed earlier....although it seems the world around me directs a path that novelists/writers are night owls. I have decided that this must change for me (I do not mean it is the same for everyone else and they should decide for themselves really). This is my upcoming battle. My night-splurts of writing must become morning-bird splurts. I am determined as I am finding my night owl tendencies to be a hindrance to my morning time with Jesus, and I am sleepy because I've stayed awake past a good and decent hour. I know this needs to change for me...

My latest journey began in February. I'll first update where I've been, and then end with my musings of my latest journey. I have, as said in prior posts, been sent marvelous things in the mail via Grace2You. First with my ESV Study Bible (praise is due to God: He is most awesome, there is no denying this!!). Off of that, I began to consider and roll things over in my mind about how I should be spending quality time with my Saviour. I know how he waits for me, yet I made no outstanding effort to brush away things that didn't matter so much, so that I could make room for Him. Alas! Why had I done such a thing as to suppose those trinkets of things to do were oh so important that they couldn't be delayed, put off or stopped so I could spend good time with the one I adore?? *Facepalm.* I was sent a devotional book in the mail. As soon as I opened the package and the book slid into my palms, I convinced myself that this was it. I am going to make room for Him if that means everything must get wiped away first! I'll add them slowly back in again, if they truly matter! I began reading that little devotional book every day. It seemed every page dealt just so with my struggles. I could only feel amazement. (This was not man's doing, no, not G2Y's doing, this was God's handiwork, working through G2Y. They do not know currently that they are tools God is using in my life to change me in a metamorphosis process. I am considering writing them to tell them what they have unknowingly done, all to the glory of God).

Sadly, I did not wipe away every one of my prior trinkets that took my time up (This does not include work. I am talking about the small things I do at home: watch tv, read, craft...time-takers). I did want to know God more though. It was an uphill battle. My attention drew to my friend's blog and he had posted a reading program to assist in helping one get through the Bible. I did not hesitate but dove into it, longing for transformation. I was mad at me for my sinful actions, for the creation of idols in the form of time-takers that took His beloved place....oh I am ashamed for it! The loss of that quality time I only wish I could retrieve and use it rightly as I should have done at first! >_<
I was sent a cd sermon in the mail. It was on the attributes of God...and it spoke about idols in one's life. The pastor should have addressed me by name, it seemed so pointed to me. It broke my heart because I realized I did have such idols in my life. Trinkets of time that used up precious time that should have been spent on quality time with Him. "If you spend more time thinking about other things in your life, dwelling on them, rolling them over and over and over in your mind, that's meditating on them. If you do that, that, Christian, is called an idol. Anything that has a larger place, a more prominent place in your life, other than that of Christ Jesus, that is an idol. And it needs to go." -This has not ceased to echo in my mind, constantly coming back to me. You see, like a dog returns to its throw-up, I keep (irritatingly enough!) returning to the idol I continually cast away from me.

I decided to tell my best friend Hannah about my struggle and how I sent away the object that had entangled me so blindly. She was encouraged by my struggle and went home and went through her bookshelf, clearing out the sinful content from her home....and then she texted me, telling me of her grand victory in her life and thanking me, her inspiration to fight the battle. I remember looking up, as I was sitting on my couch, drawing my attention to my own bookshelf. Anger raced into me so fast that I stood up and marched over to those shelves. I felt such the hypocrite! I had destroyed my ties with one sinful object, but had I even glanced at the content I was storing on my shelves? I had not! "Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person." (Matthew 15:17-18.) What am I filling myself with? I thought. I saw what I was filling my mind with and I loathed it, hating it in my heart. I tore them from the shelf and searched for any I had missed. It took me the rest of the day to clean up my mess, but I felt better. I had purged my bookcase and I was victorious in that battle!

I began setting my alarm for 7am each morning, trying to change my wake up time from it's late 9am rising to a time that would give me the space needed to spend good time with my Beloved. For days, for weeks, I found myself swatting off my alarm and waking up later only to realize it was 9am or later and I had failed! It was a horrible experience and I hated that I was failing. I began to hit and miss. Waking some days to succeed, other days to fall back to sleep, and others where I would be awake and blink to find my cheek against the open Scripture passage I'd been reading -I'd dozed off. I began to feel annoyed with me. Just how important is God in my life? I began asking myself. I tore out another idol from my life and cast it aside. I wanted to make room for Him. I desired to have that sweet time in the morning, just Him and I. I realized, pondering in the break room on my lunch break, why I wasn't succeeding. Wasn't I using my own strength? Well, there's where I was failing. I wasn't considering asking for help, was I? No. So, I did. It was rather humbling...and I felt horrible about my failed attempts. It is good that He already knew about those days, and it was good that He was right there, listening. I got up the next morning, slapped off my alarm...and fell asleep. I jolted awake at 6am realizing I had to be at work at 5am. I grumbled the whole drive to work because I sooo badly wanted to turn around and get in my time in the Word. I could think of nothing else the whole day, I was so hungry for it. I got off work and the first thing I did when I got home was bolt up the stairs, grab my Bible and read. The next day and so on, I started the routine. I am excited because as of now, I've read 8 books of the Bible!!! I don't know about you, but from nothing-to-two verses or so, to 8 books, that is an astonishing leap in the right direction!!

My life has changed dramatically since my (don't do this!) deal with God. "If You get rid of this sin issue in me, I'll go buy a study Bible." -I remember the words I prayed. Thankfully, God is a God who hears, even when I say things like that. What authority have I to be the one making the deal?? I owe my life to Him! I am His slave. He is working on my heart. I am battling my flesh with His strength. I know my sin has no strength due to the power of my most awesome Master. It will need to fall, but first, I must begin to let go of it. How I battle my sin. The more of it I see in me, the more I despise it, the more I despise it, the more I want to be rid of it! The more I want to be rid of it, the more I cry out to Him to deliver me from it and the more I battle it. The more I battle it, the more of it I discover in me and it circles! My flesh constantly irritates me as it is sinful to its core, sinful since the day of my birth, and sinful until I die. I know though, that I can stand, I can walk in victory because I was rescued from my sins, my life was purchased by the blood of the Spotless Lamb who paid my well-deserved penalty for me. Because of this, when God looks upon me, He sees His son's atonement and when He sees me, it is as though I have never sinned. Oh what a concept! Too great for my mind to fathom its awesome depths!

I began longing to serve Him. Something. I wanted to do anything that would serve Him. I was yet again sent something by G2Y. A cd sermon about the Christian perspective on work. I am waiting and eager to inhale what is said. Yet, what was said to me on the letter was all that needed to be said to me, I believe, for that time. I began treating my workplace as the place of my service to Him. Do you know, I have never thought of my work as anything more than a blessing in my life from God? I never envisioned it to be the place that I serve Him through. Yet, that is exactly what it is!! I cannot believe how that small letter has dramatically shifted my train of thought as to working. I am beginning to view it as something I get to do, something I get to do for Him. It makes me excited, pleased that I can do not just something, but something that I know how to do. There could not have been a more perfect match....and I never would have considered it. I'm excited to serve Him in this way. I only hope and pray that I am refined and made more efficient for His service.

I've decided to post these two February musings. Perhaps they will give you encouragement in your Walk. (One of them has portions of the letter I spoke of just a little bit ago).

February 19th, 2011:
1.) Amazement: "So here I am, wondering what to write about. Sounds silly, I know, for just last night I was rambling on and on about things. Yet, it is what it is I guess.
Lets start with the most prominent thought as that seems to work best. Yes, so then, here we go...

Been thinking a lot about what I'm to be doing. I mean, really DOING (going out and or making some sort of motion of being active) in my Walk. I'm so unsure that I just don't know. I don't feel inactive for the reason that people have told me that I am affecting their lives, so I must be active or a ripple affect wouldn't be possible. Its hard for me, I guess is what I am trying to say. Yes, hard for me to know where my place is. Those around me are planning their lives, they know what they want and they are striving for that goal. When I try to plan my life, it's like its an empty space on a page and I don't know what I'm supposed to put in that blank spot. I know that I am supposed to be where I am, and doing what I'm doing, but I keep thinking that I need to be doing something...I dunno...something more. Something helpful, something useful, something to reach out. But what? But what? That is the question, and I want badly to have an answer to it.
I keep entertaining the notion that I have already answered this question and its answer is: I don't need to know what I'm going to be "when I grow up." My life is not to be compared to my friends' lives; it is not right to do that. Right now, it is only imperative that I keep my eyes on God and keep walking rightly with Him. I should not worry about "what tomorrow brings."  My future purpose will be revealed in due time. I wish most strongly that I would just accept that, but I find it a difficult pill to swallow. Especially when asked, "Are you going to return to college? What are you planning on studying?" I tell them I don't know........  I am doing the only thing I know how to do: Continually asking (pleading is a more correct term) for God to bestow His wisdom on me.

I received a letter in the mail today, telling me that a sermon cd is being sent my way called "God's Perspective on the Christian and Work." I am curious and more than eager to listen to it as words leapt off the page at me...."Let me encourage you - there is no division between sacred and secular in the lives of believers. Knowing and loving the Lord sanctifies even the mundane aspects of our lives and brings an eternal purpose to bear on everything we do. So no matter what our day-to-day jobs are, we're all called to live lives of full-time ministry. Your opportunities to serve the Lord and His people don't end when you exit the doors of your church. Whether you're a doctor, a grocery clerk, a truck driver, a flight attendant, a teacher, a police officer, a professional athlete, or a day laborer, your workplace is your mission field. At work you're more than an employee - you're an ambassador for God's truth. You're not just there to punch a clock, perform a task, and receive a wage. There is an eternal purpose in your work. Your job is the vehicle the Lord has chosen to bring you into contact with people who need to hear and believe His Word. That's not an invitation too shirk your work duties in favor of non-stop preaching to your co-workers - that kind of behavior is a poor testimony (and would likely lead to unemployment). Do your job, and do it well. Be a conscientious steward of the time your employer pays you for. But remember each day to look for opportunities and fresh ways to declare God's truth to your co-workers. They are watching and listening, and your example and your words can have an eternal impact in their lives.  In fact, when it comes to reaching spiritually lost men and women, you probably have an advantage over your pastor. While he spends the majority of his time working and meeting with other Christians, you're face to face with nonbelievers on a daily basis. Its not a coincidence that you're surrounded every day by people who need to hear the truth of Scripture. The Lord has put you into a unique, specific position to reach the lives around you with the gospel. From heaven's perspective, your "secular" job has vast, eternal consequences.....Indeed for the Christian, there is no such thing as "just a job." Your attitude and performance at work is one of the strongest testimonies you have. I want to help you find greater joy, meaning, direction, and eternal purpose in the day-to-day work to which God has called you.'" And I was left sitting with amazement in my car, in my driveway, the windshield wipers swishing back and forth at flakes of snow.
I almost texted my friends to tell them what this letter just did to my train of thoughts and my perspective but I thought that they would think...I dunno what...that I was silly, strange, crazy or something like that. This is the fifth time in a row that what Grace2You has sent me has impacted my life: ESV Study Bible, Daily Devotional (bk), "Attributes of God" (cd sermon), "Slave: Conforming your will to the will of God" (bk), and "God's perspective on the Christian and Work" (cd sermon).

I do not know what say other than what is happening here is transforming me. I feel like I am fighting against the tightening shell of an old skin, struggling, squirming about, wiggling as hard as I can. I am fighting myself to grasp onto what is good and true and wise. It is a concept far too deep for even me to fathom. Every time I consider what is happening to me, I get into this state of amazement and awe about God. Why? Because all I've ever done is to cruise and relax into sins that I never should have taken pleasure in! And I was awoken to battle. Awoken by God. All of this has been His doing, not my own. Had I been left to myself, I would have stumbled farther into darkness, as is my natural habit to do. But no! His hand upheld me when I stumbled and He did not let me fall, but placed my feet back on solid ground and placing a magnificent Sword in my hands. I was again charged to don my Armor each morning for preparation of the day and then to go and proclaim what is True. I cannot help but know that I'm not going to remain the same. Why does this make me shiver from head to toe? Excitement? Anticipation? ...yes, yes it must be that. The more people see the reflection of Him through me and not see me, the better it is."

2.) Ray of Sunshine: "Where do I begin? I guess the biggest news first: Today was my best friend Sonia's wedding. I spent a bit of time this morning in hopes to catch her on the phone but she was very busy. Succeeded in texting her twice, wishing her the best and giving advice n whatnot (such as: "remember to breathe...", "Enjoy every second because you'll blink and the day'll be over", and "pay no attention to fluttery butterflies!" :P) I do wish that I had been able to scrape up the finances to be able to afford such a spendy trip, but I couldn't. Although I had the money for the flight, I did not have money for anything else (food, shelter, vehicle, gas....and bills when I returned home....yeahh...all those bills had to be considered in the equation as well, the hungry little monsters!!! :P). So we texted each other with "I love you's" and "hugs" and I spent the rest of the day thinking about her and her wedding.

It wouldn't be gone from my mind that childhood memory of us two sitting on the bed, chatting late at night in whispery voices, daydreaming of prince charmings and pinky-promising to be at each other's weddings. Slowly, today, I learnt that some childhood promises can break, and like this one, they really hurt deep deep down. Kind of like the acid when one eats too much greasy foods and it tries to come back up, but you're trying to smile and keep it swallowed so that no one notices you are hurting. I suppose I did a good job, cause every one thought I was in a very pleasant mood today. And I wanted to be very happy! I wasn't attempting to lie. I wanted to be happy because I knew that today was the happiest day of my bff's life. I was and still am incredibly happy for her. I am only sad and hurt because I could not go and celebrate with her. I am resolved that I will not let this eat me. Tonight, I will place this in Jesus' hands and let Him take it. I know full well that once I do that, my sleeping will be restful and tomorrow will be brighter. He loves it most when I talk to Him and ask for His help. He doesn't want me to walk through my trials alone, He wants to be right there with me.
.......(Later that day) I was busily attending to my customer's needs, making her order of two 16 ounce chai teas, heated to 160. She was such a dear hearted lady, with quite a merry laugh that ended with chuckles. A deep sort that just made my day by hearing it. Well, of course I happily obliged to fill her order, and before I knew it, we were chatting  about teas and our favorites and the cold day and how pleasant and nice a treat hot tea was. I could smell the warm aroma of sweet chai as I steamed it, "Ahh, it's such a relaxing smell." "I agree!" She said, counting out her coins for the purchase. Then she paused, leaned forward over the counter, "I know you can't accept tips, honey, but I'd like to buy you a chai tea. Would you like that?" I smiled and nodded before I could think about it, and then said, "Oh no, you don't have to do that. Its...its oka..." "Done then. Add it on...go on now. Its on me." She waved her hand at me to hurry and add it to her order. (I blushed because she told me my face was a very pretty shade of pink. Why do I blush? Why do they always notice so easily? I dunno.) I did as I was bade, choosing a 12 ounce chai, heating it to 180 (cause I was working, so it'd need to stay hot longer). "Thank you." I whispered, "You don't know what this means to me, but thank you." (I'm such a tearful person! gahhh!! *Swats at tears*) She wagged her finger, "You know, you looked like you really wanted one. I was right. You have that chai and enjoy it." I felt like stepping around the counter and hugging this lady whom I'd never seen in my life, this ray of sunshine. "Thank you. Thank you." I repeated, chastising myself mentally for not knowing anything else off the top of my brain to tell her other than "thank you, thank you." which I'd only told her four times already. :P Anyhow, it was a precious part of my day. It got me considering something grand: how am I doing in the area of generosity and kindness? Am I being to others the ray of sunshine as that woman had just been to me? In what ways could I improve?"

And this is my cocoon, my struggle. I praise God for my trials and times of struggles, these battles....they are drawing me ever nearer to Him. That is what I want, that is what I desire. Paul Washer said it well when he said that the most obedient Christian is the Christian who has realized they have been the most disobedient. This, I believe, is who I am...disobedient and I know it well. Nothing I can do on my own can change it. Praise God for He is rich in mercy and forgave my sins! I am His slave and I am grateful.
I hope this brings my brothers and sisters in Christ encouragement that they are not fighting battles alone. Please always remember that God is not just beside you, He is within you, working through you, refining you as gold by purging the dross from your life...As you can see, He is doing currently in me. Remember that He who has done a good work in you is faithful to complete it. So exciting!!!

May you turn to Him always and your gaze be ever fixed upon Him. That, truly, is all that really matters. :)
God bless and good night.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Coley for that! I don't know what else to say but that. I understand how you feel. I have felt that way too. Thanks again and I look forward to growing in the Word of God together. :-)