So, where did we leave off yesterday? Right, with Jack's case study.
But first!! I want to share a praise for our Lord. Last night we took the spawnlings to Chuck E Cheese for Haloween night - our family tradition, since everyone else gets to do something fun and we do not celebrate Halloween as it is a Pagan holiday- and I, foolishly, left our little stroller - with my purse in the bottom of it!- at our table and went off to cash in all our collected tickets. Well, a few minutes later my dear husband is asking me where the stroller is, since he is trying to get the baby ready to go. What do you mean? I ask - It's right there at the table where we left it- Is it gone?? Yes, it was gone!!! Oh No, the grocery money was in my purse which was in the stroller -( stupid, stupid, stupid!!). While my hubby stole outside to look for it, handing me the baby, I began to search the place for the stroller. People began to notice our predicament. They were asking if my stroller got stolen! I knew my husband would be very upset about this, and it would be very bad for us if it was gone, but I also knew that God was in control of this situation-whatever was happening. So I made my soul quiet down . A kindly woman went outside to look for me, saw it through the window sitting way off in a corner by itself !, and got it for me! Yes, my purse-and everything in it!- was STILL THERE!! Boy, we were thanking God- and kicking ourselves! It seems someone's child must have pushed it away from our table and around the place, leaving it off there. A smaller example of God's protection, I know, but he is not under the gun to provide for us and to protect us in these ways- he is a praiseworthy and omnipresent, loving God!!
*Sigh*. I just love the Lord!! O.K., well, back to business....
Did y'all guess what Jack's idols of the heart were, in this situation? That's right!, they were having a sense of control over his circumstances and people ( especially Mary) meeting his expectations of them.
.... Can't we all relate to that?? Even if the exact circumstances are different , and our struggles not anger but stress , or neither of those but depression ( non-clinical) - I know I sure can!
It is not easy to walk the narrow path; that's why so many wander off of it, isn't it? I have been in prayer about this, and yes admittedly my own wisdom is not too impressive- but Oh!, God's IS!!! These desires can't rule our hearts if we are submitting all of our life, every bit, to the Lord we say we trust in. After all, he won't let us down, so why do we even try to figure things out on our own anyways? Oh, this sin nature is so persistently self-sufficient, isn't it? And we are not to be wise in our own minds, but to submit ourselves to the Lord who will direct our paths. We can only grow when we are like the apostle Paul said, learning to be content in all circumstances, for our joy and strength comes from the Lord and our salvation, not from no medical worries, or less financial stress, or from obedient kids or "nice" mothers-in-law. So, that means that all 'h-e-double-hockey-sticks" ( heh) could be hitting the fan at home or at work, or wherever, and we could still be unrattled.
How Awesome is our God?!!!
There are a lot of psychology programs out there. Some humanistic in nature, some Christian, some positive-thinking and some behavior modification, but NONE are like the word of our God!
Can any other thing cut through our hearts like the word of God can, simultaneously cutting out the cancer and filling in the gaps with His Love?? I personally invite you to try them all, and then get back to me. You can probably never be sent to more counseling than I have, from the age of 5 on up till I refused to go to anymore as a teenager, I have been bounced from one counselor to another , yes - I grew up in a bad situation-BUT, none have touched me or changed me or helped me grow like the word of God has done! There is no paid helper that can ever care for us like God does, because we are his own children- adopted into HIS family- if we are saved. This is a God who you can call on 24/7, to share a laugh, a cry, a need, a wish, a desire, a burden, a prayer, a dream, a hurt, a besetting fear... we can place ourselves, and our children, firmly in his hands and not have to worry. Ever. I invite you to beseech God in prayer to show you YOUR idols, don't worry, we ALL have them and there is not one who is righteous, not one ( )so God is not surprised by the state of your heart, or mine. he came to save sinners, not perfect people...if we were perfect, we would not need a Savior, right? Here are some questions from page 99 that will help you like they have helped me :
1. The next time your upset- stressed, crying, complaining, ranting, exhausted and discouraged- ask yourself what you want.... Do you desire to be happy right now, understood or at least validated, to be free from stress? Do you desire for these people to just *like* you? Are you wanting good grades? Do you desire obedient children that you don't 'have to' worry so much about ? .....When you have defined what you want, ask yourself... are you willing to lay it down for Jesus?
This doesn't mean he will never fufill this desire, or that he will, but just that we be submitted to his will for our lives and be content in him, no matter what he chooses for us.
Do you believe that if he doesn't allow the desires of your heart to be fufilled today, or ever, that this means he does not love you? What if he has plans for us that we cannot understand, but we can trust that he is good ( the word says so) and that there are higher ways in spiritual places that we will never understand until glory, meaning until we get to Heaven ( the scriptures say this, too.) If he chooses not to give you what you want in this situation or any others you may face, are you willing to yield that decision to him in faith?
2. Read Jesus' exhortation to the church in Ephesus in revelation 2. He said she did many good things, and followed the rules, but had lost her first love. Maybe that's been a picture of your Christian life. What has been the deepest desire of your heart? Is the love of God and the love for God controlling you- and are you ordering your life after IT- ot has some other desire come to rule over your life? Even good desires, taking up first place in your heart, are in the wrong place.
3. Our love for God grows out of our understanding and experience of his love for us. Spend more time with God meditating on his love for you. A good place to begin would be to focus on the cross! Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ( this verse is on the bulletins at our church.) read Ephesians 3:17-19. Paul prays that we would be rooted and established in the love of God.
4. For further study, take a concordance and look up the word DESIRE. Read through all the verses that talk about our desires and how they rule us and control us in the natural man. After coming to Christ, the scripture teaches us that we are to develop new desires. List what the desires of thenatural man are. Note the difference between evil desires and desires that are good but they have gotten too important. Begin to conciously yield your desires to God that he may have his full way with you!! :)
One of the main things that has helped me grow from an anxious, stressed-out and worried person to a peace- filled ( most of the time, and always battling this sin ) person is prayer. You just have to find at least 10 minutes to sit alone with God, without any other noise. (Or, if your really good at blocking out noise, just pull your apron up over your head like John Wessley's wife did , LOL! ... I sure hope I spelled his name right. ) If you can only bring yourself to sit in quiet for 10 minutes, pull off 10. I love 15 to 2o but 30 is the max for me, personally, all at once or I get so peace filled and tranquil with God I fall asleep in his arms. In 15 minutes, I promise you God will come to you and sit with you - I can say this because his word SAYS he is faithful to be with those who pray. Don't feel like you have to read off some eloquent prayer to God, or grovel on and on the whole time, God already knows what is in your heart and he is not impressed with flowing prayers -see his word about that. His word clearly says that all he wants is your heart and your love in prayer. I just lay down on my bed, cover my head with my pillow to block out any light or noised from outside, and tell God I'm listening - teach me. I listen for awhile. I ask him questions about what he shows me, about what he wants me to do and what specifically he wants me to do so that I can be faithful to obey him. God actually enjoys these times of fellowship with me!, so why not with you?? He created us to worship him. He gets worshipped and praised, and I get bolstered. I get relief. I get comfort. And a million other things I cannot even express. How could this ever be a bad deal???
If your not hearing from him right away, take heart, it may be just how he wants to communicate with you at this time. Some people hear the voice of God, I haven't yet. Some people don't hear or feel any language at all, just a tranquil peacefullness and warmth. I bet there are so many experiences in prayer that certainly I will never hear of them all. For me, I feel the still voice of the spirit speak into my spirit and I know it is God, he is here. (Be careful with this, and bounce any answer to prayer off of your pastor. I rely on many counselors in my church, just as the Bible says to do in Proverbs. ) I could not grow in trusting God one inch if I did not pray every single day. At least every other day! Man, I can really feel it when I have missed a day of prayer. I am sinning my little butt off! And not even feeling as bad about it as I should, in many cases! When I am sinning like this, God is so gentle and loving; He simply nudges me in my spirit and says, seek me. I am here. No need to stress about any thing at all, here I am. Just ask me!