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Fear of Giving

It is so easy to write that check to the church and feel like I have done my part.  It is easy to allow the ministry staff at the church to use that money to fund their ministries and feel satisfied.  They are the experts, they will know what to do and how to handle things.  But we are called to more than that.  We are called to give of ourselves.

I hold back.  Why?  I am afraid.  I am afraid of what others will think.  I am afraid I am not equipped.  I think, “who am I?”  I am afraid of someone thinking negatively of me because I did not perform well.  I can easily say that these statements flow from a place of low self esteem and insecurities.  But when I read them, they all start with, “I”.  The thing I need to remember is it is not about me.  I am just the vessel.  The fear of giving of ourselves becomes about our own ego.  I am guilty.  Nevertheless, I am racked with fear.

For the past week or so I have been really struggling with if I can make a difference.  Does this blog matter?  On one hand I feel like I have a calling, and on the other, I feel like I am underqualified and someone else can fill those shoes much better than me.  Many of these thoughts probably come from the fact that I am in the middle of changing some of my mood stabilizing medication and it really affects the way I view myself.  That is why I have not blogged in over a week.  Then God answers those questions for me very boldly.  I had not one, but four people ask me at church why I have not blogged recently, one of whom I do not really even know.  Okay God, I get it.

But I am still racked with fear.  So I have to ask myself:  “How would I live if I were not afraid?”

 1.  I would be more transparent.  I would allow people to see who I really am and the struggles of my imperfections.

 2.  I would be more willing to give of myself.  I would not be afraid of what other people thought if I spoke up and fumbled my way through explaining things.  

3.  I would offer myself more, and when not needed, not to take it personally.  

4.  I would minister without hesitation.  I think of a man named Alan who stopped me in Michael’s craft store a few months back.  He asked me to pray for him.  I told him I would do that, but what I should have done was pray over him right then and there.  But I was afraid.  Afraid of stares, afraid of being awkward.

I need to remember that God equips the called; not calls the equipped.  I need to remember that it is not about about me; that I am just the vessel.  Even Beth Moore has horrid criticism.  Jesus faced horrid criticism.  I will not be immune.  I need to plant my feet firmly in who defines me.  May I not be afraid to serve; may I not be afraid to give of myself. 

How would you live if you were fearless?  

Acquainted with the Night

“I’m irritable.”  I typed these words out to my psychiatrist in an email last week.  It had been a few days of feeling like I was going to start throwing plates across the room at any moment.  The intensity of the desire raises red flags within me.  It was an email that followed days of feeling like I was going to loose control with my children.  I have been on edge, irritable and easily angered.

The truth is that I am very frusterated with who I am.  I know that in Psalm 139:13 David says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”   I have to wonder about the meaning of that verse.  I wonder because my body is flawed; my mind is flawed.  I have bipolar mood disorder, and trying to keep a good head on your shoulders is sometimes very difficult.  Tweaking your meds is a constant.  I am very blessed.  I have been very stable for the past six or seven years. Some people go their whole life without that type of stability.  But this constant tweaking. . .I want to scream, “Why did You make me this way!  Why, if you are the one who wove me together, did you make me this way!”

I am thankful for my meds and I would be okay with them  if it weren’t for the side effects.  In recent years, they have gotten to where they make me so sleepy.  I try tweaking my meds only to find myself sleeping half the day away and in a mind-fog the other part of the day.  No options seem to be acceptable.  I can’t be this irritable as my life-style.  I laugh at the funny quips from Facebook that say things like, “I say, you are about to exceed the limitations of my medication” or “I don’t need more medicine, I need people to stop pissing me off.”  I can relate to both.

I wonder if a more accurate way to say God wove me together has more to do with my creation of spirit and less with my body and mind.  God created my spirit in His image.  I am not so sure about my body.  I try to be at peace and find a light to light connection between my dim light source and the one who is light, pure light, without a trace of darkness.

Even in my frustration, I remember how far I have come, the days of being unstable, the days of intense emotional pain and agony.  I remember the soaring highs of chasing the sun and the darkness of the crashing lows.  I remember how utterly worthless I felt I was.  I remember being acquainted with the night in a most intimate way.

I am grateful that it has been years since I was intimately acquainted with the night.  I praise God that someone was able to make a medicine that keeps me stable.  Yet, it is not perfect and I still struggle.

I don’t claim to understand why, if God created me, was I created with bi-polar disorder.  I suppose the same reason why people are born without an arm, deaf, or with Down’s Syndrome.  I could blame it on genetics.  But we live in a fallen world where things are not perfect.  Humanity is not perfect and we have imperfect bodies.  But the soul, our light source, our made in the image of God, — I am not even sure that is perfect, but I know that my light desires the perfection of God.

I once said that I wonder if we are judged on how well we fight the demons of our lives.  I still wonder that.  It is easy to be good if you have no struggles in your life, but when put under pressure, we find out who we really are.  Maybe it is who we are at core that is judged.

If that is so, then being acquainted with the night has served purpose of which I have been made the humble servant of. Whatever path or obstacles you overcome, do it for God’s Glory.

Hope of a Future

Christianity is not about perfect people.  It is about broken people who have a hope in being restored.  A few years ago, a former Islamic woman turned Christian, spoke to our church about her conversion.   I remember how animated she became when she spoke of the hope that Jesus brought her.  It is a hope she had never had before she was Christian.  She spoke of trying to be “good enough” yet, never being able to obtain the level of perfection to which she was held.  Whether that sense of perfection was from her family of origin or something to do with the religion in which she was raised is something I can not attest to.

In John 3:18 Jesus says, “There is no judgement awaiting those who trust Him [the son of God].  Paul, in Col 1:22, states, “As a result [of what Jesus did], He has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

There is no spiritual judgement for those who believe in the sacrifice of Jesus.  We have been made blameless and pure through Jesus.  That is our hope and our salvation and the thing we should stand on as Christians.  Sadly, even in Christian circles, this point is overlooked.  Somehow, it is lost between confessing and repenting.

A few years back, before I understood this truth, I was trying so hard to be perfect.  And I was failing miserably.  I was emotionally punishing myself, thinking if I could just flog myself a little harder, then my plight would be noticed and God would receive my offering.  I thought I could be made pure and atoned for through my self inflicted emotional pain.  I felt like I was unworthy, and should be punished as such.

One evening after classes I tried to explain my brokenness to another woman.  I was hoping for comfort and insight.  But as I explained my theology she simply asked, “So, what you are saying is what Jesus did wasn’t good enough? ”  The words were not spoken harshly, but they had an edge to them.  That edge cut into me.  How could I not think that what Jesus did was good enough?  It was me, I tried to explain, that was not good enough.  Those words cut me, but they were so true.

What I had missed out on is that Jesus had already made me pure.  No judgments could ever be held against me because I claim salvation in the name of Jesus.  I claim that I am one of His.  I didn’t need to punish myself.  He had already taken the punishment for me so that I can have hope to see the beauty of heaven.  It is more than a hope, it is a security.  Spiritually, I am blameless and pure.

It is not our striving toward perfection or goodness that makes us good.  It is not the commandments that make us behave ethically.  It is the love that the Father has shown to us.  It is the light which radiates from us because we have an understanding of what has been done for us.

Reflections of Rain

My family owns a farm that borders the Harpeth River.  I go there often when I need to reconnect with what is important in life.  Today I went to refocus.  In this hectic world, it seems so much of what is truly important is lost in the rush and chaos of everyday life.  I have to admit I do not go to the farm enough.  I should.  It feeds my soul.

It is a place that when I need to clear my I head I go.  Instead of the hectic chaos, my head is filled with smell of sweet hay.  I walk farther and cross the creek.  The wind is blowing and I remember that there is rain forecasted for the evening hours.

It is fall, and the last of life is still hanging on.  I wonder how often we are like that.  We hang on despite impending change.

There is Beauty in change.

The wind picks up and the clouds to the west darken the sky.  Faintly, I begin to feel raindrops.  The storm is some distance away, and I am puzzled from where the droplets come, as they sky above me is still blue.  But the rains will come.  It is only a matter of time.

Then I am given the blessed sign from God.  A rainbow.  Out of a few drops of rain a rainbow emerges.  How funny it is in life, that with a little rain, it can bring such Beauty.  But sometimes our rain is more than a few drops, it is a deluge.  I am afraid that this timid rain and the beautiful aftermath is only foreshadowing of things to come.  Still, I go ahead with my plans to go to the river.

Sometimes the path before us is not easy.

Often, there is unwanted baggage that clings to us.

My father had me convinced when I was a small girl that these were porcupine eggs and not cockleburs.  Whatever they are, they sure do tag along for the ride.

The storm looms in the distance.  I know it is only a matter of time.

Finally, my destination!  I sit.  I am still, and I reflect on the one who made me.  I am reminded of the verse in Phil. 1:6 — And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 

I am renewed in my belief that I am where I need to be in life.  God has a plan for me.  He has began a good work within me.  He will not give up on me until it is complete.

The storms will come.  But I will still praise His name.  During those storms, God is my rock and my fortress.  

As I begin my journey back to my truck, I feel a gust of hot air followed by the rush of cool air.  The storm is close.  Then it begins.  I walk through the brush out into the open field just in time to hear the tat-a-tat-tat of the rain moving across the woods which borders the field.  I pick up my pace.  Lightning flashes and thunder booms and I know the rain is going to beat me to the truck.  It does.  It begins to pour down.  I enjoy the rain washing over my face.  I wipe my hand across my face to remove the drops which are now getting into my eyes.  Thunder cracks loudly above my head.  Regardless as to what may come, I am His.