Old Habits Die Hard
Monday was a full day. In meetings straight from 9 am – 1:30 pm. Then a quick workout at the Y and back to the office until a 6 pm meeting. Been working on my sermon here at the end of tonight for this Sunday since I really need to give a title tomorrow for publication purposes. Doing some wrestling the last couple of days on where I’m to go with the message but think I have heard correctly and am now fleshing it out and praying over it. I am only gone to post the title this week because the way I am weaving this message together requires that people really not know where I’m going with it. I’m not even going to post the Scripture text for these reasons. The title is "Prone to Wander" taken from the old hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing which is one of my favorites. So, if you are in the area, come hear the message. If you can’t, I’ll post next week about the sermon.
Restless nights update: Took 2 Tylenol PM at 8:30 pm tonight to try and ensure a long night’s sleep. It’s about 10:30 pm and the effects of the drugs aren’t kicking in yet. Too much mental stimulation working on my sermon, I guess. I should just watch some reality tv or something and that would do the trick. 🙂 I was reading an article today at the Y while working out about it is much more common for women to deal with insomnia or sleeplessness than men. They stated several reasons but I don’t really remember them except for hormones. Basically I was half reading, half trying not to fall off the elliptical.
I read a wonderful article today from Relevant Magazine relevant (of course) to some stuff I am working on with God – or rather God is working on with me. 🙂 You can read the full article here but I want to just post a couple of thoughts from it that I am been chewing on all day.
In a society that tells us to have everything all planned out, to know exactly where we are headed, we fail to trust God in what He is planning. We are trained to want total control. But it’s when we put our unabashed faith in He who formed us that we let our obedience to God lead the way. God wants to bless us beyond what we can ever fathom, but only when we put our faith in Him and lose our will to get it all figured out by ourselves does His plan begin to unfold. – Kate Goodell
This is so right on the money with what I struggle with – not just recently but all the time. Having it all figured out, relenquishing control. God and I seriously have wrestling matches so much of the time in our relationship and I really hate it. It’s easy to say "If you hate it, then stop doing it!" but it isn’t that easy. It is a constant fight against my nature even when I am incredibly tired and worn-out. So, I fight God and I fight myself. It is so hard for me to just let go and to have the "unabashed faith" that Kate mentions. It’s not really a power trip thing – its a scared thing. Control mean safety; knowing means security. Lack of both of those makes me want to throw up. I posted related to this on March 22 and realized when I went back to read this post that I never shared about the spiritual funeral. I really thought I had but I went back tonight and read all my posts from that time and I had not posted on it. So tonight I am copying for you the details of that funeral from my journal – partly because I promised I would do that at some time but mostly because I desperately need to be reminded of what God did for me that night – March 21, 2005.
I have been moving a few days ago to the knowledge that I will never have satisfactory answers when it comes to God. I search and search for a place that I can manuacture where I am pleased with every aspect of God and it all makes sense. But even while I sit in this very room I’ve created, I can never forget that it is merely a stage of one dimensional props and backdrops that I’ve designed to try and fake myself out. But it never works. You never let me forget that it is my design, not Yours and thus it is flawed.
I had been planning a spiritual funeral this week – after our Maundy Thursday service. Seemed appropriate. I was going to spend some time this week preparing for the night but You needed to take back control. I was trying to manufacture it because I feel I must be in control at all times – even when I am needing a spiritual funeral to kill and bury sin in my life. But You threw that out the window last night – Monday. I had supper with two friends and felt led to share with them my recent struggles with You. This opened the flood gates in unsuspecting ways and I knew You were calling me to grieve that night – regardless of my plans.
So that Monday I excused myself from dinner early and went to the cemetary. Parking my jeep in the farthest corner, I sat in the dark, quiet of that place as it rained. And You and I began a journey together. I had ideas of us working to a conclusion – to some resolutions that I would be comfortable with. I had unspoken expectations of what would happen and ran into barrier after barrier as I tried to "manufacture" my funeral. You were firm to remind me that I was still trying to be in control, to figure things out to reason. I cried, I thought, I challenged but to no real avail. I could never come to a why – a "why I have such a need to be in control" other than I am scared and vulnerable – two feelings I detest. So afraid of people hurting me and of being disappointed. I don’t know why that is.
For awhile You have given me this image of a deep ravine with waves and rocks far below. Hovering over this deep canyon in the image of a cloud, You call me to come and leap into your arms. But I can’t. At the beginning when You would start calling me to leap to You, I would stand on the edge and look down and be afraid. There is this undescribable pull towards You and I felt like it was going to suck me over the edge. The problem was I didn’t believe You would catch me. I felt like I would go crashing to the bottom. So I stepped back from the edge and found a tree trunk to grab hold of. By our time together last night [at the funeral[, I was fully wrapped around the tree and my knuckles were bleeding as I gripped for dear life. The pull from You was becoming so strong and I could feel my insides being nearly sucked out of my body. I was so torn and hurt and wanting to let go so badly. I know that You were safe but I couldn’t – wouldn’t – trust You. Last night as we began our wrestling, I expected that I was going to have to figure out ways to pry my fingers one by one from the strump, but I couldn’t find a way. I couldn’t figure out how. So, I finally broke down and asked You for help. Like a little child, I aked with complete vulnerability if You would come over and get me. And You did. You gently took my hands from the tree and placed them around Your neck and You carried me with complete strength back to hover magnificiently and safely in Your arms over the canyon.
It was after this time in the funeral that I was repeatedly reminded of two things:
1. "The fear of others lays a snare, but one who trusts in the Lord is secure." Prov. 29:25
2. "I don’t know and that’s okay".
It’s going to be okay. I don’t have all the answers, I never will. I won’t understand, I never will. I won’t be safe all the time, but I will be secure. I will fail, but I’m not a failure.
The next morning after my spiritual funeral, I felt like I had been hit by a mack truck. My body ached all over and it was my morning after reminder of all the wrestling that had gone on with God the night before. It reminded me of the passage in Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with the angel. I’ve always wondered about Jacob’s resulting limp and I think I understand better the blessing of his limp. Jacob’s limp would always serve as a rememberance of what God had taught him. Since my aches, at least my physical aches, are gone, perhaps my resulting vision from that night will be my limp to remind me of God’s faithfulness and strength in my life.
I know it was long but it was a huge blessing to me to recount this funeral tonight. I will constantly have to "put to death" such feelings so that I may leap with unabashed faith into the strong and capable arms of God.
Peace and rest – Melissa
Wendy – Thank you for your honest comments. You make a valid point about projecting our neuroses. I think that does happen a lot in the arena of faith – more than we acknowledge or are even aware of. The perpetual egocentric struggle colors even how we perceive or relate to God.
I am very much a free will believer and it has been a struggle with me in faith to find the balance of free will and the interaction of God in the world. I don’t know that I’ll ever come to a position that satisifies me 100%. However, the statement that you list from my post isn’t an “either/or” statement for me. For me – to let go and listen to God is my free will choice. The next free will choice I make is how I choose to respond to what I hear and feel from God. All along the journey I have the free will to stop listening, to ignore, to simply refuse . . . Because I believe that I live in relationship with God, then it must be a true relationship – a dance of sorts as we mutually respond to the movements and language of the other. Some times I do say “no” and stomp off the dance floor. Other times, I’m just so thankful to let God lead that I’ll choose to let God do just that. But God never forces or tricks me to dance. Who wants to dance with a partner like that? Even God doesn’t. God wants me to choose to be there; to want to dance.
Anyway – this blog is called random for a reason. Honestly – I do appreciate your comments and your honesty. My thoughts and writings are simply where I’m at on my journey and I respect where you are on yours.
Here’s why Xianity drives most loopy:
“God wants to bless us beyond what we can ever fathom, but only when we put our faith in Him and lose our will to get it all figured out by ourselves does His plan begin to unfold. – Kate Goodell”
Do you people then not believe in free will after all? You can’t have it both ways.
Honestly, you are all just projecting your neuroses onto your little man in the sky.
Oh forget it…carry on with your cult.
Beth – thanks for sharing that. You are so right. It is much harder to live out. What always amazes me is how many times God has been faithful and come through for me, and then I forget it. And the next time it comes up where faith is required, I doubt God once again. I know God must slap his palm to his forehead and say “Are you kidding me? You still doubt me?” I’m a very slow learner it seems. Thank goodness God has amazing patience and grace! I love you, Beth, and it is so great to have your voice on my blog. Thanks for sharing!!
I really like that excerpt from the article in Relevant magazine. I struggle a lot with that, too. Especially right now, when I feel so aimless and without direction in my life. I feel like I need to figure out where I’m supposed to go and plan my life out. Problem is: 1) I don’t want to plan out my life. What would be the excitement in that? and 2) God plans my life, not me. And I have to wait for him to reveal it to me, not vice versa. I have to trust him and have faith that he knows what’s best for me and has an amazing plan for my life. But that is ohh so much harder to live out than to just say…