Faith

But This I Call to Mind

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“If you don’t start taking your medicine you are never going to get better.”  The only problem was…I wasn’t getting better I was getting worse.

After the death of my son, Jimmy, I was diagnosed with sever PTSD and acute depression (believe me when I say I didn’t find it that cute).  The doctor prescribed Trazadone, Zoloft and Klonopin.  To those around me the medicine appeared to be working.  At least it numbed me outwardly to the point I could interact with others.

But inside the tempest of anguish, despair and panic howled through my soul carving out every area of reason and humanity I had left.  I peered out of dead eyes at those around me and screams for help that never left my mouth echoed inside. Why couldn’t they see that a great evil was consuming me?

In my insanity I began to wonder; were the pills mind control drugs?  So I quit taking my medicine and hid it.   Before long my husband noticed and hauled me back to the doctor’s office.  He so desperately wanted them to “fix” me.

Now there are a lot of things that we can do for people through the wonder of modern science:  keep a heart beating with a pacemaker, repair a “broken” heart with the valve from a pig’s heart, and even transplant a dying person’s healthy heart to extend the life of another.  But neither man nor medicine was capable of healing my heart, my mind, my soul.

But where man failed, God succeeded.  The doctor’s intention was to restore me to who I was prior to my breakdown, but God decided to make me a brand new creation!  No more fear, no more panic or insanity but peace mingled with a consuming passion for my Savior and God.   Now my daily dose comes from the Word not the pharmacy.

But grief is a funny thing.  We never really stop grieving the loved ones no longer with us.  However, now I see sorrow is not a beast to fear but simply a part of living with a love that never dies.  My son is still my son as much as ever.  He simply isn’t with me.  So of course I miss him; at times more than others.

The other night I dreamed I was asleep with Tim (my husband) but that we weren’t at home and I was becoming agitated as a singular thought made a maddening, ever increasing circuit in my brain, “I’ve got to get home and hold my baby.”  In my dream I was trying to wake up and tell Tim that we had to get to Jimmy but I was frozen and couldn’t

I awoke and the dream settled into my spirit.  The familiar weight began to squeeze my heart.  I knew I could not allow the pain to turn into panic or depression. And I remembered…..the secret isn’t to run from the pain, deny it or push it down.  It’s to embrace it and cover it with God’s grace.

Remember my affliction and my wanderings

The wormwood and gall!

My soul continually remembers it

And is bowed down within me.

BUT this I call to mind,

And therefore have HOPE:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

His mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning;

Great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“and therefore, I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:19-24

Praising God through grief.  The marvelous journey continues!

What are you grieving today?   Dearest allow God to carry that burden with you.  I’m not a doctor and am not recommending anyone under the care of a psychiatrist discontinue treatment. Neither am I accusing.  I’m simply sharing how the great physician continues to heal me from day to day.

Are you on a healing journey?  Share your story.

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Putting on the Gloves

The fight is on!  It’s been less than two weeks since I began this 30 day praise journey and it has been a struggle every step of the way!  Instead of being filled with more joy I’ve found myself battling anger and depression.

In unpleasant situations I would say, “Praise God.”  But my heart was full of darkness.  There has been a definite disconnect between me and my tongue.  I felt like one of the hypocrites that God condemns in Isaiah 29:13:  “..this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their heart is far from me…”

“Fake it till you make it,” my foot!!  In each situation my true identity would eventually show itself.  My life was becoming a cycle of speaking praise, then sulking, and finally lashing out.  Like an overfull hose with no release I would blow a gasket.  Not surprising since, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  (Matt. 12:34b)

I was a misery to myself and others!!!

Until the Lord reminded me – I have an enemy.  The accuser.  And boy was he busy.  I would praise and he would accuse.  The louder I praised; the louder he accused.  Until eventually my words of worship were drowned out by the cacophony of complaint and incrimination.

For instance:  Someone would track dirt on a freshly mopped floor and a tidal wave of judgment would sweep away all reason:

  • They do this every time.
  • Why do I even bother?
  • I’ve asked them over and over to stop.
  • Is it too much to ask for just a little respect?
  • Yada, yada, yada.

You get the picture.  Soon my soul seemed to be smothering under a steaming heap of insult. I was accepting the thoughts the enemy was using to place a wedge between me & others.  Man what an idiot!!  I knew this lesson.  I’d learned it years before.

Well no more!  Time to put on those boxing gloves.  I’ve committed to placing every thought on God’s altar.

“Lord I have been living with dark thoughts about myself, my life, my loved ones, and pretty much everyone.  I’ve been accepting of the enemy’s reasoning and it is driving me.  The enemy backed off for awhile but the old battle is on … with a vengeance!  Time to put the gloves back on.  I have been walking according to the flesh – NO MORE! My fight is against Satan and my flesh not with those around me.  I repent and confess.  Lord please strengthen me for this battle for your Honor & Glory.”

It’s a moment by moment struggle for me; praying constantly for Christ to take my thoughts captive to His obedience.  Time to step up, step out and fight this battle according to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:

“For though DEBRA walks in the flesh, SHE isn’t waging ward according to the flesh.  For the weapons of HER warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  SHE destroys arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

How about you?  What accusations have you been accepting?  Are you ready to pray this Scripture over your life?  Christ in you will wield the sword, you just have to join in.

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I’m Drowning!

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“Lord I’m Drowning!!”  I jumped into this pool of praise and I’m drowning.  It was all fun and games when I was wading and splashing in the shallow end.

 Some person ignoring me?  Big deal – Praise God!

Dirty house?  Big deal –Praise God!

Rain on my parade? Big deal – Praise God!

But then I while I’m out and about minding my own business that person pops up outta nowhere.  The one I haven’t thought about in months. (Not since the last rare, unfortunate siting around town).  And the hurt was stirred up all over again.  My family had been devastated by the actions of this individual.  My loved ones will NEVER be the same. It has created life circumstances that will haunt some of them forever.

So I have to forgive this person – I agree.  I’m grateful for your command to forgive and even more grateful when you wake me up to those areas of my heart that I’ve given over to bitterness.  The sweetness you bring to my soul in place of the iced landscape of un-forgiveness is unspeakably beautiful.  So yes, through the power of your amazing Spirit I forgive.

But praise?  Lord – Praise?!?  Suddenly the water in this pool of praise isn’t calm and refreshing.  Panic sets in.  I feel myself struggling against Your Presence as emotionally I flail about seeking some foot hold; some place of solid ground.

Praise…praise…praise…I’m not sure what that looks like here.  Though wooden lips I say the words, “I praise You Lord.”  What does praise for something like this look like?  Does God want me to praise Him for the horrible sin and the devastation it created?  No, no, of course not.  But to praise Him that He is still on His throne.  He won’t let us go.  He WILL bring my loved ones through; stronger, more mature and closer to Him.  I praise Him because regardless of my situation I have a HOPE (full assurance) that Christ will be glorified.

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” 

Romans 5:2b-5

So I’m not sure what this challenge of praise to supposed to look like at all times. But I’m here in the middle of it.  And when the waters get choppy that’s ok. He will carry me through.

What about you?  What challenge are you facing (or have faced) that you don’t know HOW to praise for.  Share you insights and struggles.

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Taking the Plunge into the Pool of Praise

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“Sometimes I wonder why anyone would look at me and want what I’ve got.”  Ms. Jean was echoing the exact same words that had captured my own mind just minutes earlier.  We were questioning whether our lives communicated joy and peace to such a degree that a watching world would greatly desire the Spirit that dwelled in us.

During our Tuesday morning Bible study our conversation had drifted towards those poisonous twin sisters that dwell on my tongue – murmuring and complaining.  Believe me when I say that I’ve served them with eviction papers numerous times but they are illegal, disrespectful squatters who have set up permanent residence in my mouth and they refuse to go!

I realize as a Christian that my speech should “always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  (Col. 4:6)  I KNOW that – I just don’t always LIVE that.

Recently I had the opportunity to give a five minute presentation on Psalm 40:1-3.  I used the Scripture to share my personal testimony of divine transformation from Jail Bird to Song Bird.  But as I meditated on those Holy Words, God began pointing out every harsh, critical, unnecessary bit of trash that came spilling out of my mouth.  Valuable time that should have been spent praising Him was wasted with constant complaining.  Psalm 40:3 says MANY people are watching and when they hear a new song of praise unto our God they turn to Him in repentance.  So now I now they are watching…the question is if praise draws them to Christ what effect does my bellyaching have?

Yeah I know – dagger to the heart!  Straight conviction and repentance.  Day after day after day.  So I decided to take a 30 day Challenge.  No complaining or whining for 30 days – only praise.  So I tried – and failed.  Day, after day, after day.  Every morning I had good intentions but before long I would find myself grumbling over some silly thing and I would just give up in disgust.

I began to make childish excuses for myself:  “Why 30 days?”, “I have legitimate complaints”, “Everyone complains”, “No one else is doing this why should I?”  The list went on and on and on.

But yesterday as Ms. Jean expressed her dismay over the struggle to represent joy through her words and attitude it hit me afresh.  I realized that if Ms. Jean (the sweetest most humble person I know) deals with this issue then we ALL have some form of the same evil controlling our tongues.

So at that moment I challenged myself along with my sisters to truly take the 30 Plunge into the Pool of Praise.  For 30 days we pledge to seek God to control our tongues and our attitudes.  We will strive to STOP the train of grumbling and instead ride the waves of thanksgiving.

I invite you to join us.  Make today the day you start the journey of taming the tongue.  God designed us to run this race of life as a team.  Imagine you are part of the Olympic Relay Team representing God’s Kingdom.

Please post to make a public commitment (those always help keep me going!) and them post comments to this site daily detailing your thoughts, struggles, failures, successes, etc. as we run this out together.  God will use them and we will grow together!

Love from your sister in Christ,

DB

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I’m not Blameless

“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to  Abram and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless (perfect).”  Genesis 17:1.

Who is in the world can be perfect?  Not even Abram.  And definitely not me.  But as I read this verse it grabbed my heart and I knew God was speaking directly to me.  “Debra walk before me and be perfect.”   It is at times like these that I know to stop, get still and listen.  That phrase resounded through my heart all day yesterday as if a seed planted deep within had sprouted and the tentacles of its vine quickly covered my soul.  “Be perfect, be perfect, be perfect.”

When God speaks to me there is never a sense of condemnation (Romans 8:1) and I knew He wasn’t goading me to be somehow try to be “better.”  “Be perfect, Debra, be perfect.”  But this simple phrase has captivated me.  So as soon as I awoke this morning I went to my Bible and concordance.  “Speak Lord Jesus, speak.”  And this became one of those glorious mornings when the Spirit of God ministered directly to my heart.  The Hebrew rendering of what we have translated perfect:

Perfect [8549] (from 8552): entire, integrity, truth.  Complete in the sense of the whole thing.

God is calling me to be whole, well, and complete.  I am complete in Christ, this I know.  I have the fullness of the Godhead bodily living inside of me and He has granted to me EVERYTHING I need for godliness.  (Colossians 2:9/Colossians 1:7/2 Peter 1:3) But for me to be fully complete I have to relinquish all I ever have been, am and will be to the Lord.  I must lay myself before the Throne of Mercy and Grace and bequeath Him my entire heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5/Matthew  22:37/Luke 10:27/Mark 12:30-31)

So often we think we can simply add Christianity to the rest of our lives.  But Christ has to BE my life.  Do I have a divided heart or is it wholly devoted to HIM?

If I cling to the ways of this world I have a divided heart.  If I refuse accept Christ’s healing from past sin (those I’ve committed and those committed against me) I have a fractured heart not able to be fully devoted to God.

God isn’t calling me to be blameless. He is, however, calling me to be wholly His.  And when I’m wholly His then I will run the race and set aside every weight and sin that does so easily beset me.

I’m so grateful for a God who continually calls  me to Himself.

How is God speaking to you today?  Share in a comment below.  It will be an encouragement and a challenge to the rest of us.

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