Monday, September 26, 2011

Mom Fast Day 3

Today is the last day of our fast. I’m feeling pretty good physically, but still no major spiritual breakthrough. But I do know that God is moving, whether I can see it or not. There are so many people praying about our situation, and I know those prayers are not falling on deaf ears.

Yesterday, we couldn’t bring ourselves to put on our happy faces and go to church. So we visited a church pastored by an old friend. His church is not in our town and we knew we could go in and not see anyone we knew (other than our friends, the pastor and his wife.) And guess what the sermon was about… Courageous, a movie about fathers stepping up to the plate and doing the courageous things they need to do to fight for their kids, wives and families. The sermon was not just aimed at fathers, but also mothers or anyone else who had settled into complacency, but needs to move into the courageous.

One of the phrases of my friend’s sermon that hit me right between the eyes was this, “You’ve followed all the rules and ended up against insurmountable odds.” Is that something like me saying to God, “I HAVE trusted and look where it’s gotten us!” According to my pastor friend, a complacent believer says, “Obstacles mean I must have done something wrong, so I quit.” But a courageous believer says, “Now I see what I must overcome.” Yes, God was speaking to us yesterday.

Another important message I heard this weekend was at an Old Testament Conference I attended. It was on Saturday, when I was feeling so sick, but the lesson that stood out to me in the fog of a major caffeine headache and nauseous stomach was about Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I’ve claimed that verse and others like it for years, but there was always one nagging question. Most of the promises of God like Jeremiah 29:11 were made during times of persecution and martyrdom. The trials our family have had are not as a result of persecution for our faith, but of the bad choices we have made. So can I still claim God’s redemption? According to Sandra Richter, the teacher of this conference, the answer is a resounding YES! According to her, the context of Jeremiah 29:11 is this: Jeremiah is standing in the devastated city of Jerusalem (I think). Israel has been defeated, the city destroyed and the blood of the Israelites is flowing freely down the streets. All this devastation occurred because the Israelites refused to obey God. And yet in the midst of all this chaos, brought on by their own bad choices, the prophet of God proclaims that God still has a plan, and that the plan is for good, and that they still can have the hope of a great future.

I hope I’m not misinterpreting anything Dr. Richter was saying, I think I got it correct. If not, someone correct me. But what I heard was, yes, I can still claim God’s promises as I seek deliverance from an impossible situation brought on by our own bad choices. I’m not sure what that deliverance looks like, and I know it’s not going to be about my own comfort and success. But it is going to be all about God’s plan for redeeming broken people.

We have learned so much through the last ten years of struggle, and I know we’re not done. Learning that God is not my giant “Santa in the Sky” who will never let anything bad or painful happen to me is probably the greatest lesson I could learn. I have learned that my life is not my own and that it’s not all about me! I have discovered that even in the valley of the shadow of death, I can have hope for a future. And even though I still don’t know for sure what I am doing tomorrow, I will face it with courage and not complacency. And that is my Unswerving Hope!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mom Fast Day Two

I am such a wimp when it comes to fasting. I was so sick all day yesterday, the first day of our fast. I decided to drink a little coffee this morning so I don’t get such a caffeine headache. So far, I feel better today.

No major spiritual break through so far, but I just keep hearing “Trust Me.” I still don’t know what I’m doing from moment to moment. But I’m praying for God to shine his light on our situation. Here’s what I read in my devotional this morning:

POUR ALL OF YOUR ENERGY into trusting Me. It is through trust that you stay connected to Me, aware of My Presence. Every step on your life-journey can be a step of faith. Baby steps of trust are simple for you; you can take them with almost unconscious ease. Giant steps are another matter altogether: leaping across chasms in semidarkness, scaling cliffs of uncertainty, trudging through the valley of the shadow of death. These feats require sheer concentration, as well as utter commitment to Me.

This makes trust sound a whole lot more active than passive.  I have felt like I’ve been too passive, and that I should do more. But I do feel like we’re leaping across chasms in semidarkness, scaling cliffs of uncertainty and trudging through the valley of the shadow of death. So today I will work at pouring all my energy into trusting Him and working with sheer concentration and utter commitment to God. I will be powered by His grace and My Unswerving Hope.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mom Fast Day One

Today is the first day of my fast. I have a bit of a caffeine headache, but I’m off to a good start. Here’s what I hope to gain from this fast:

  • ·         Wisdom and insight about how to help our son
  • ·         A closeness to God that I have not yet known. I want to live in His presence in a way that his love and peace will permeate my words and my demeanor

So, God, I commit these next three days to you. I want to know You. I want to love You. I want to share You.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Mom Fast

My hope may be unswerving, but it sure is taking a beating. Today it is bruised and bloodied. I’m at another point in my life where I have to present myself to God as I am, and it is not pretty. I cried out to God today, and all I could hear Him say was, “Trust Me.” I want to shout back, “I HAVE trusted You, and look where it’s gotten us! I’ve memorized scripture and quoted it. I’ve prayed, I’ve cried, I’ve given, I’ve set boundaries, I’ve loved ‘till it hurt. What do You want from me?!”

“Everything,” is His only reply.

“But things are getting worse instead of better! Surely You must need me to DO SOMETHING! Surely there is something I must do differently because what I’ve done for the last however many years is not working!”

“OK, go on a fast. A 3-day fast. And get three friends to do it with you.”
“God, you know how I hate fasting! I always end up making it all about me and how pitiful and miserable I feel. I don’t feel like I ever get anywhere when I fast. It just doesn’t work for me.”

Silence. God will not be manipulated. Not by my rants. Not by my tears. He is unmovable.

So I’m going on a three-day fast, and I’m looking for three friends to do it with me. So far, I’ve had no takers. Am I the only mom who aches for her kid? Am I the only mom whose heart has been dashed to bits as she watches helplessly while her kid self-destructs? Is anybody out there who knows this unbearable pain? Or who would like to avoid it in the future? I need to see the Hand of God move in my situation. I cannot go on with my life as I have known it if I don’t. Maybe that’s the point. Whatever the case, I must see the Hand of God. Will you join me? Click this link for the facebook event:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Story of the Butterfly

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I know it's been around a long time, but it's a good reminder that our struggles are not without reasons. There is a purpose for every difficulty we go through.

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.
Sometimes struggles are exactly
what we need in our lives.

Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. --James 1:2-4

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Papa Prayer

I've been thinking about the Papa Prayer a lot lately. I sent the "gist" of it to my son recently, hoping to help him on his current difficult walk of faith. Why is it so easy to tell someone else what they should be doing, when you're not doing it yourself?!

Yesterday, I realized how much I need to revisit the Papa Prayer for myself. I am so prone to present myself to Jesus as the person I think I should be instead of the person I really am. 'Cause the person I really am can be very dark, angry and selfish. Does Jesus really want me to present that kind of person to Him? Uh, yeah!

As long as I keep showing up to Jesus with my happy face plastered on, I am nothing more than a white-washed sepulchre and there is nothing He can do to heal me. But when I drop the mask and begin to tell Him how disappointed I am in what I've experienced of Him, I begin to see how ludicrous my disappointment is and He is able to heal my perception of Him and free my mind from the grips of fear, worry and regret.

Does that mean I'll never have fear, worry and regret again? Uh, no! But when I do, if I'll bring them to Jesus, present my fearful, anxiety-ridden self to Him, He will correct my perception of Him and give me direction. At which point, I need to submit (oh, the dreaded word!) myself to him, do what He's calling me to do and move on! I cannot function the way He has designed me to function when my mind and emotions are consumed with fear, worry and regret. But until I get real about those things, they will consume me.

The Papa Prayer:

Present yourself to God authentically; be real with Him as you are with no one else.

Attend to how you are thinking of God, how you picture Him as you're talking to Him and then modify your perception to fit who He tells you He is.

Purge yourself of your relational faults by taking inventory of how you put your interests ahead of His and getting rid of anything that blocks intimacy with Him.

Approach God just as you are, tuning in to your passion to know Him and to honor Him above all others.

"Come to me exactly how you are. Stop trying so hard to be good. Admit that you're not so good. Admit how disappointed you are in what you've so far experienced of Me. I know you wonder if I even care. Sometimes you've hated Me. Be who you are in My presence. No, it's not a pretty sight. But I've found a way for Me to look at you with excitement. And my Father is singing over you. You won't hear the music till you come out of hiding. Come. Present yourself to Me. I'll walk with you as you present yourself to my Father. It'll be all right. Trust me."  --Jesus (From Larry Crabb's book, Papa Prayer)