There are those days when life “slugs you right in the gut”. It knocks the wind out of you and you feel helpless. As I approached bedtime last night I was feeling this way. I won’t go into the specifics. Each one of us has our own specifics. What is genuinely true for all of us is that the closer to home the situations are, the more the slug/s hurts.
My devotional addressed this well as I began my time this morning. Some excerpts from it are: “I’ve discovered that thanking You frequently not only awakens my heart to Your Presence, but sharpens my mind…. You’ve been training me to look back over the previous twenty-four hours and make note of all the good things You’ve provided…. The Bible teaches that my enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion look for someone to devour…. Help me to drive away the enemy by thanking and praising You. This is warfare worship!”
As the wind is knocked out of me by life, I want to breathe in the “breath of life” that only trusting in Jesus and praising Him will do. I have witnessed over and over how Jesus brings good out of what seems hopeless. I’m putting my trust in Him and praising Him in advance.
As I begin to write this entry my mind is processing the message Jesus has provided today. It was centered around focusing on the truth of His Power made complete in my weakness. Each morning as I have my devotional time I find myself inspired to live the day fully committed to serving Jesus no matter what comes up in the day. However, what I’m challenged with today is the truth about actually living this out each day isn’t as easy as it appears in the early morning. As the day progresses and I get into late afternoon and evening I find my strength waning. With that said, I also find myself much less prepared for temptations which spring forth at that point. As Jesus was pointing this out just a little while ago, I awoke to “whose strength I was relying on”.
When I taught Celebrate Recovery’s lesson–TURN–last Thursday evening, I had pointed out that it isn’t enough to turn away from the temptation, we also have to be awake to who/what we turn to. If we turn to ourselves, we will often fail. However, if we turn to Jesus by putting James 5:16 into practice, we will find healing. The verse says: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed….” The step of turning can be easy, but to complete the turning to will need one to swallow pride, admit one’s weakness, etc. However, in so doing, one is promised healing. I don’t want to miss out on this miracle of love God has so graciously provided for me/us. We have such a loving Father!
There is a song I often use in our worship at Celebrate Recovery. I have to confess that I use it because the message of it resonates in my heart. Its title is: “How Can I Keep From Singing His Praise”. This morning the song is going through my head over and over. This past week of critical analysis regarding my total surrender to Christ has been one of genuine revelation. I’ve never wanted to be a selfish person like I saw my dad as being, yet I find that flesh is selfish no matter who you are. I have to confess that this is just as true for me as it was for my dad. My flesh may look different from dad’s, but what it has in common is selfishness.
God, in His loving kindness and patience, has shown me that total surrender doesn’t keep me from looking like dad, instead, it allows God to mold me more into the image of His Son. This is so humbling and makes me want to SING HIS PRAISE! How I love Him!
Yesterday I wrote about this full surrender of Earnie being the driver of all I say and do, thinking that was the deeper root I’ve needed to see and respond to. Well, today, God is going even deeper. It started with my devotional reading. A couple of excerpts are: “Beloved, I want you tp pay attention to what you’re thinking about–both the obvious thoughts and the subtle musings of your subconscious.” Then, “…This is your season of breakthrough. I am doing a deeper work and drawing out the poison of lies so that you can be truly free.”
In my journaling and asking Jesus what He wanted me to know from Him for today, one of the things He pointed out was the beauty of sexual intimacy in marriage. He went on to remind me that Satan wants to destroy this beauty since it is one of God’s great intimacy creations. The sexual abuse I had coupled with dad’s beatings and verbal attacks calling me “Hazel” and saying I’d make a good wife someday” had its toll on my thinking of self. I longed to be loved by my dad so gay thoughts were lies in my “subtle musings of my subconscious”.
I have a couple of clients who are caught in their own confusion of self-identity. God is helping me see with much greater clarity– my own self, which allows me to better approach them. My “season of breakthrough” seeing this “poison of lies” is amazing! God is never through as long as I remain committed to living fully for Him and helping others who want to do the same.
My goodness, being a new creation is something Jesus gave to me 60+ years ago. However, I feel as though this gift remained unopened until the last couple of years. Even when I opened this gift and accepted it as a gift from God, I have only recently begun to use this gift. In so doing I’m discovering that it is now to be all of me. If I’m to receive the full benefits of this gift, I must relinquish the driver of Earnie in every aspect of my life. The amazing thing is that now–I want to do this!
As I was journaling this morning I was recognizing so many areas where I have surrendered my will, yet God was kindly showing me other areas. I asked Jesus what I needed to do differently and His response was something like this, “Oh, my son, there’s so many simple, yet pridefully difficult steps one needs to take. Most importantly is to confess one to another so you can pray for each other and in so doing, be healed. James 5:16. Selfish choices keep freedom at bay. Choosing to surrender your prideful self keeps sin at bay. This is My focus for you as you move forward in living life as this new creation I’ve given.
I keep writing about my discoveries regarding the topic of being a new creation. All I can say is that this topic is what my present journey keeps revealing to me. This morning is no exception.
“Stepping into God’s transforming love” I’ve already written, is something I have at the top of my prayer list reminding me to consciously do this as I start my new day. What is transforming in me is what drives me. Today I realized more than ever that I too often drive Earnie. God was showing me how His transforming love moves me from driving self to surrendering this self-drive to Jesus so He and The Holy Spirit can continuously be my driver during the day. He wants to do this throughout my day and not just as I think about it during the day. I love this!
Psalms 37:5-7 says in The Passion, “Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust him along the way, you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly! He will appear as your righteousness, as sure as the dawning of a new day. He will manifest as your justice, as sure and strong as the noonday sun. Quiet your heart in his presence and wait patiently for Yahweh.” The footnotes to this passage say that the waiting we do can be compared to childbirth. It can be painful, but in the end we have such greater things because of our obedience in waiting.
Becoming a new creation teaches something I would never have learned otherwise. This lesson is about God’s endless love for you and me. Prior to me believing I could be a new creation, I found myself judging me and my past and present actions based on my criteria. I thought God was judging me continuously and what took place in my life was a result of this judgment. Little did I know that this was a mindset of my own. Once I was able to see and believe that I am a new creation, I began to see how the things I judged were of the world–man’s choices, not God’s. God wanted me to turn to Him in these times rather than to my mind’s judgmental thoughts.
Today, these thoughts do come, but I have a place to surrender them–Jesus Christ. I have to do this often in some days, but as long as I do, I can keep God’s peace alive in me.
Have you ever been in a situation where you need to release something and you do–time after time? However, just as soon as you release it to God you are carrying it again–stewing about it and worrying the outcome and releasing it again just to stew all over again. Well, I’m making a confession this morning. I have released the situation to God and I’m committed to doing so until it is solidly in place in God’s Hands. I “step in God’s transforming love”, as I wrote about yesterday, and ask that He will help me stay there in my mind, emotions and soul. I praise Him for the outcome only He can provide and for helping me to say only what The Holy Spirit wants said, and I will let go of what doesn’t need to be responded to.
Being a new creation doesn’t remove daily living’s problems. However, it sure does allow a person to step into the sticky situations as a child of God who believes God will use every situation to bring Honor and Glory to Him if I keep out of the way and let His Holy Spirit be the voice/message rather than me.
“Step into God’s transforming love”. I have this written at the top of my prayer list reminding me to consciously take this step as I am finishing my devotional time and starting to pray over my prayer list. As I was taking this step a few moments ago I was very humbled by what this step means.
I’ve lived my life wanting to be loved by God. I wanted so much to have the brutal sins of abuse cleansed from me. I hated what they had made me to be. I knew I was a sinner with sins which could never be cleansed until death when this polluted body would be dead and my spirit would be free of it. How wrong all of this belief I had was!
Stepping into God’s transforming love is a choice I get to make. It is an opportunity God gives to all of us. God provides it, we accept it. I wanted Him to somehow remove my past when He wanted me to release it to Him. Once I understood this, my belief has completely changed. Knowing this is true has done just what the words say: transformed. I fully understand when someone says what I use to believe, but now I have a different platform in which to talk from. How patient our loving Father is, waiting for us to finally believe the TRUTH of His Word for oneself.
In Celebrate Recovery one is reminded to go back into your journal/s and reflect on what you find. Ask yourself questions such as: What is different from where I was 3 months ago compared to where I am today? Is there a difference? Do I tend to be stuck on an issue? Am I moving forward in living for Jesus or am I spiraling? In doing this one can see if he’s stuck and hadn’t realized it. If I need help to move out of the spiraling pattern I can then get it.
I write this first paragraph because the same is true for me when writing this blog. When I started it I was still working hard to finish finding freedom. I am convinced that for me freedom was found when I no longer doubted I am a new creation. God has anchored this in me. So, I have been moving into journaling what living each day is like as a new creation. A pattern I’m discovering is that I am disappointed in myself almost daily to some degree because I don’t live up to “my” expectations of being a new creation. I instantly put expectations for me in my head to live up to.
This morning I was reminded in my devotional time to not forget where I started from. Instantly I was moved from disappointment to wow. I am reminded all over again that being a new creation doesn’t remove my flesh and its selfish desire to influence my daily behaviors. When I step into God’s Transforming Love intentionally each morning during my devotional time, I surrender my flesh to God’s Holy Spirit so He can be my lead. I’m learning to stay here more and more in the day. The wonderful truth about God–He gives me opportunity each day to renew this commitment!