Getting My Attention

I just love it when I realize that God is teaching me a lesson, when He speaks to me from several venues, but always the same message. And when I get it, I say “Ohhh. I’m listening now, Lord!”

A couple of days ago, I was reading my devotional from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I love this book – such a great way to start my day. The point of her message was that when I chose to spend time with God, meditating on His Word, He will give me His peace to replace my fears and worries.

I then opened my email, read an e-devotional by Ann Voskamp (A Holy Experience), and was reminded that I am not what the media would tell me I am, but that God is the One who sees me as beautiful. When I think of myself as fat or out of shape or unattractive, I was encouraged to replace the messages from magazines and TV with the truth of God’s Word, that He calls me Beloved. He sacrificed Himself for me, He loves me unconditionally, completely. He sees the inner me, and I am beautiful in His eyes.

A couple of emails down, I read my e-devotional from Jennifer Lee, and it reminded me about taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). So when I’m thinking that I don’t measure up, I wish I had a better body, I feel inadequate because my days are long and I don’t see how I’m contributing anything to anyone, then I need to recognize that these are not thoughts from Christ.  They are lies that cause me to question my value. But Christ says I’m valuable, I’m treasured, I’m important, I’m loved – so much that He died for me. And His words are Truth.

After journaling about these lessons and finishing my morning emails, I flipped on the TV as background noise for while I was knitting. Enjoying Everyday Life with author Joyce Meyer was on, and I found myself watching instead of knitting. She told the audience to be careful with thoughts, that dwelling on the negative ones is contrary to how God wants us to think. “Ohhh, I’m listening now, Lord!”

I recalled Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

Four separate venues, but all to get my attention. God wants me to think truth, not lies, and when I do, I will be flooded by His peace (You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3).

God reminds me that I am His treasured child and He has a plan all worked out for my good. I don’t need to fret about our relocation and living situation, or my body image, or what my future holds. I am to spend time with Him in His Word, and keep doing what He gives me to do. And when I choose to release my worrisome and negative thoughts to Him, He will give me His peace to replace those thoughts.

I’m so glad He got my attention.

 

 

Peaceful Street Scene

This time of year, the roads in the local area are crowded with thousands of snowbirds who have come here for winter. There are cars everywhere!

Turning into a friend’s neighborhood, the peace that these trees bring to the empty street makes me sigh out loud with relief.

no traffic!
no traffic!

Too many people, too many traffic lights, too many cars, too many stores and restaurants – stop and go – too much noise. Around me and within me. My head can be just as busy as the roads – full of thoughts, ideas, ponderings, pressures all vying for the foremost of my attention.

And then I spend time with God, and it’s like turning off the main road and onto a quiet side street – peaceful, calm, a deep breath of cleansing air. Rest from the chaos of the world, from the chaos in my mind. His rest.

(Jesus to his disciples:) Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

 

Praying for Healing

Some very thoughtful comments from a fellow blogger prompted this post…thanks, Jennifer!

And in responding to her, I recalled meetings I had several years ago with a pastor at our church. He had referred to his battles with depression in several sermons, and I felt very safe sharing my struggles and seeking his wisdom and prayers on many occasions. We talked about being Christians with mental illness. We discussed depression as a result of sin in the world, not necessarily due to a specific sin in one’s life. He reminded me that this battle against depression has a spiritual component, and that I should daily prepare myself with the armor of God (Ephesians 6).

I still remember my reaction when he told me to pray for healing. I was shocked! Not at his comment, but at myself. I realized that somewhere over the recent years, I had resigned myself to living with depression, and had stopped asking God to heal me. Instead, I had focused my prayers and energies that He would use my depression to share hope with others who struggle, especially with other Christians. But why had I stopped asking for healing?

Sitting in Pastor’s office, I realized that I had given up hope of being healed. Don’t get me wrong – I know that in heaven there will be no depression; I will eventually be healed. (“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17, NIV) But I had accepted that I will have depression for the rest of my lifetime on this earth, and so I had stopped asking God to take it away.

Maybe I was thinking of Paul’s “thorn” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10) and that he had asked God to remove it – three times! – and God had responded with “My grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, “No. I will use this ‘weakness’ in your life to show My strength.” I don’t think Paul told us he asked three times as a magic number, and Scripture doesn’t say he asked, it says he pleaded. Implored. Begged. But still God said “No.” I thought, “Well, I’ve asked many times and it hasn’t happened, so I’ll just accept it and ask God to show His strength through my depression.”

But unlike Paul, I haven’t been told by God to stop asking. Instead, the Bible encourages me to be more like the woman who showed persistence in repeatedly asking the judge for justice (Luke 18:1-8). Keep asking. But keep working. Keep letting God use the depressions and remissions in my life to encourage others. “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4b, NIV. But keep asking for healing too.

I also remember the end of a meeting with my pastor. He laid his hands on me and prayed that God would take the depression away from my life. I prayed and cried silently, completely agreeing, with hope that God would answer “Yes,” and the depression would be gone. Pastor ended that prayer with Romans 15:13, NIV, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  the verse that keeps showing up over the years of my depressions. When he finished praying, I told him of the significance of that verse, and we agreed that it is my life verse, that I am to trust God, because the rest of the verse’s action comes from Him.

I’ve seen prayer heal depression. I’ve prayed with others for a woman whose depression went away that afternoon. I’ve had people pray the same for me, and I’ve felt the relief and comfort of my needs and concerns being given to God. My depression has not gone away. I still move in and out of depression and remission. But the verse remains the same. So I pray that I’ll trust God, be filled with His joy and peace, and overflow with hope. Certainly not of my own doing, but supernaturally, through God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think that asking for personal healing and serving God from a place of brokenness are mutually exclusive. There can be – should be – both. I think this is what my pastor was trying to tell me.