Thursday, October 15, 2015

This Would Be Easier if I Trusted You Less

It happened on a Saturday morning.

         After a long season of trusting God and praying for His help and interceding for a loved one and leaning hard into the living Word of God, I was singing and praying on a random Saturday morning.  If you've ever been in a season like mine, where you're like the "midnight friend" in Luke chapter 11, and you have a need so pressing on your heart that you don't know how to do anything but knock until the Lord meets your need, then you know what I mean when I say that sometimes you grow weary of praying and asking and knocking and never seeing the door swing wide with your Father's welcoming smile awaiting you. Well, I was weary.  I was tired on this Saturday morning.  And I'll be honest.  I prayed for just about everything under the stars except what was on my heart, except what I wanted, except what I desperately needed. But the Lord wouldn't let me off the hook.  Even while I was praying for other things, He drew it out of me. He wouldn't let me come so close and not be real.  So, I encouraged myself in the Lord and decided I wasn't going to "go through the motions" after all.
        Press in, Sue.  Focus on your Lord.  Don't lose sight of Him now.  Your enemy wants you distracted.  The Word says to DEDICATE yourself.  The Word says DEVOTE yourself.  Jesus prayed all night.  Be like Jesus.
      So, I got up and started pacing the floors.  I got real with God.  My friends laugh when I "get real" with God.  But God doesn't.  He gets me.  And on this particular Saturday morning, God "got me" real quick.  I poured my heart out to him about my loved one, like I always do, like I always did, like I always have.  I lined up the reasons this person so needs my Father to intervene.  I reminded God why this person is so vulnerable to the enemy, and then I told the enemy why he couldn't have him.  And then I started asking my loving Father to move.  Move heaven.  Move earth.  Move people.  Move hearts.  Move dreams.  Move plans. 
      I pray you can hear my heart here.  I wasn't making casual requests.  I was begging.  Bawling.  Snotting.  On my knees.  My face was on the floor.  Incoherent.  Heart-raw. All-my-eggs-in-His-Basket.  As if lives depended on Him. Because they do.
      And then it hit me.  In a wave of pure love and absolute honesty, I picked my head up and told God with a smile on my teary, snotty face, "This would be so much easier if I trusted You less." And instantly, in a picture of what was happening in my heart, I had to stand up.
  Actually, I had to stand up and laugh.  Because I realized, right then, I had been on a journey.  A LONG JOURNEY.  I may not have covered much geographical ground, but, oh the places I had been with my Father!  You see, two years ago, I remember laying in the same floor, pouring myself out before the same Father, but it didn't start from a place of faith.  My journey started from a place of fear and of torment and of terror.  I was young and afraid and shaky and scared.  I was on bended knees, but they were wobbly.  I was face to the floor, but that floor wasn't solid beneath me.  I was crying out, but I wasn't all too sure of the Father that would let me cry in the first place.  I was questioning.  I was angry.  I was indignant.  I was proud.  And when I would pray, I was throwing words in all kinds of directions, just hoping against hope that I would say the right thing on the right day and hit the right target with the right attitude on the right Temple beside the right angel uttered with just the right verse at just the right tone and the right inflection...  You get the idea. 
         I had been on a journey alright.  Two years ago, I showed up to the exact same battle and said, "God, this would be so much easier if I trusted you more."  And now, two years later, on this same battle ground, the war hasn't changed. The enemy hasn't changed. The person God and I are fighting for hasn't changed.   I HAVE.  Back then, I looked at my mess and it looked impossible.  And I looked at God and it seemed like He was nowhere to be found.  On Saturday, I looked at my mess and it looked like it simply ISN'T POSSIBLE THAT GOD CAN'T FIX IT  And I looked at God and I said, "This would be so much easier if I trusted You less.  If I had one ounce less confidence in Your goodness, one fiber less faith in Your power to rescue, to redeem, to restore, to tear the veil, to show Yourself strong, to raise Your banner of Salvation, to make good of what my enemy meant for harm, then I could walk away from this season of intercession that feels like tearing of actual flesh.   I could get up from this spiritual place and pretend that it doesn't exist, Lord- that would truly be easier than this."

But I don't want to.  Not even a little. 

From:  "God, this would be so much easier if I trusted you more," while weeping, terrified,

            "This would be so much easier if I trusted you less," while smiling, hands held high, confident in my Father, even though He hasn't opened the door yet.

Oh, what a beautiful journey.

And so, I'm able to live 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  (Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.)  Thank You, Father for this season that I thought might break me.  Thank you for allowing me to question my faith in You.  Thank you for taking me to deep, deep places in prayer, so deep that I found You, my faithful Friend, my faithful Father! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'm the Worst Mom Ever!

It happened again today.

There I was, running stringers for my pole beans, minding my own business, when that familiar unfriendly voice crept into my spirit.

"If you were a better Mom..."

Oh, how I hate that voice.  It creeps in at the best and worst times, undermining everything I do, forcing me to face my fears of parenthood and draining me of the faith that gets me through the day without coming unglued.

"If you were a better Mom, your kids wouldn't sin."

"If you were a better Mom, your kids would know more Scripture."

If you were a better Mom, your kids wouldn't fight."

"If you were a better Mom, your son would use proper punctuation when he posts on Facebook."

"If you were a better Mom..."

You get the idea.  I have a feeling we've all been there.  And if I'm right, the conversation continues the same way for each of us.

"If only you had..."

Now this little doozy is a kick in the gut every time.  It doesn't even matter what you finish the sentence with, because no matter what you blame your failing parenthood on, you can't go back and fix it.

Just a few months ago, my husband called me from work and shared his "If only" with me.  He was tired and we had been digging weeds in a rough parenting patch for about a year.  I could hear in his voice that the enemy had done a number on him, and my heart broke when he finished his sentence.

"If only I had taken my son on that mission trip before he graduated high school."

And there it was.  Guilt.  Fear.  Sorrow.  Shame.  Regret.  And because his "failure" happened in the past, there wasn't a single thing he could do to make all that emotion go away.  And so the enemy had him exactly where he wanted him.  Slipping down into a pit for which the only rescue had expired about two years prior.

"If only I had been tougher on sin..."

"If only I had shown more grace..."

"If only I had spoken more openly..."

"If only I had shut my mouth..."

We've all entertained this stranger's voice.  And sometimes, he really gets us because he makes a lot of sense, but let's be honest; sometimes he's a foolish enemy spouting foolish lies, and yet we still buckle beneath the accusations.

"If only I had bought that __________."

"If only I had let them play ball."

"If only I had taken them to the beach."

Or, God forbid, the dreaded "If only I had sprung for the iPhone."

He's a rascal, for sure- that enemy that whispers lies and makes us feel like failures, but I hate to tell you- we gave him permission.  The minute we decided that parenthood was pass or fail, we opened the door to a spiritual warfare that would keep us pacing the floors, accusing ourselves and passing the buck in the mirror 'til the end of time.

We give him permission to wreak havoc on our faith when we say things that make us believe that we are either perfect parents or complete failures.

"Mom of the year..."

"Failure as a mom..."

"Worst dad in the world..."

"Unfit dad..."

I hate to be the bearer of hard news, but until we change our vocabulary, our enemy ain't about to change his.  Until we look at parenthood through the lens of Biblical truth and take a stand against the culture that tries to speak louder than the Word of God when it comes to parenting advice, we will always fall in those pits with antique shovels for rescue tools.  Until we "faith" the facts, we'll always be dreading the next onslaught of accusations of failure.

It's time we were honest with ourselves, our spouses and our children.  It's time to speak the truth into empty rooms and empty hearts.

Parenthood isn't pass or fail.  It's simply trust and obey, or not.  

We're not perfect.  We weren't meant to be.  And yet God blessed us with babies that grew into kids that kept us up at night with their antics, anger, and addictions.  We have to quit trying to become a perfect parent and tell the truth!  We'll never be perfect.  That's why we are daily in need of the precious Holy Spirit to speak through us, make us strong, increase our faith and open our eyes and hearts to the spiritual needs of our children.  If I'm looking at life through the light of the Word of God, and I truly want to be a better mom, then I'll focus all my heart and attention on becoming a better daughter.  The more I try in my own strength and wisdom to be the "perfect mom," the more clearly I tell my Creator that I think I can handle this task without His help.

The only thing we can withhold from our children that has any merit or value on their futures is the opportunity to love Jesus, know God and obey the Holy Spirit. 

That's it.  It's that simple.  Forget sleepless nights worrying about whether your child is going to grow up to hate you because you didn't buy them a trumpet and sign them up for band.  Forget the hundreds of dollars we rob from our budget to make sure they get a better tag on their blue jeans than the kids they sit near in school just so we can feel better about ourselves.  No more asking our spouses for the thousandth time, "Do you think this is a good idea?"  How about instead of driving ourselves crazy worrying about the right curriculum, the right dating strategy, the right discipline plan, the right devotional, the right floor plan, the right short length, the right social life, the right tone of voice or the right percentage of non-gmo foods, we worry about what really matters.

The questions we should be asking and the answers we should be worrying about:

Do I have an opportunity to allow my child to learn God's Word?

Do I have an opportunity to help my child choose right over easy?

Do I have an opportunity to teach my child how to repent of sin?

Do I have an opportunity to show my child how to place others above themselves?

Do I have an opportunity to help my child fall in love with the Body of Christ?

Do I have an opportunity to let my child learn how the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Believer?

Do I have an opportunity to help my child walk away from sinful relationships? 

Do I have an opportunity to prophesy the Word of God over my child's life?

Do I have an opportunity to tell my child what I love so much about Jesus?

Do I have an opportunity to show my child that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to fight for their spiritual journey?

Do I have an opportunity to let my child sacrifice in order to take care of a widow or an orphan?

Do I have an opportunity to show my child how to lean into the presence of God as their help in time of trouble?

Suddenly, all my worries and accusations seem pitifully off the mark.  

Could it be that yours are, too?  Could it be that we've all gotten caught up in the world's way of parenting and that we're punishing ourselves for "mistakes" that have no merit and "botches" that bear no weight?  And in doing so, we've completely distracted ourselves from the questions that really matter?  Could it be that every time we hear the enemy whisper some accusation of failure, that he's really just making sure our hearts don't wake up to the real battle?  

Tell the enemy he doesn't have permission to speak into your life.  But use more than words to tell him.  Ask yourselves the questions that matter today.  Then do it again tomorrow.  Share the questions with a friend and challenge them to do the same.  Do it until the voice you hear in the garden isn't your enemy accusing you, but your Helper motivating, encouraging and empowering you.  

...and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

...forgetting what is behind and pressing forward.

...growing in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.