Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And the Lord said...

God has really been working on me the last few weeks. I mean, He's always working on me, but recently it's been quite obvious workings. I don't want to forget them, so I am going to blog about them so as to not only seer them in my mind, but hopefully be an easy way of looking back on these timeless messages God has given me.

First, the backstory:
My family has been broken. About 4 years ago, we had some awful heartache happen with some of my family members. I will not go into detail, but I will say that I - over the past 4 years - have failed to follow God's instructions. I didn't realize it. I thought I was doing it right. My family member messed up. I "loved" them, but not the mistake. I told them they were wrong and when things didn't change, I "loved" them by setting up boundaries and only communicating when they communicated with me. And then, it was always short answers. Very. Short. Answers. I also was unkind and disassociated with all those my family member had attached themselves to.

I honestly had no idea I was doing wrong in the "loving" area. I mean, I loved them, I hated the sin. Isn't that what we are called to do??? Well, yes. However, loving begrudgingly is what I was doing. I didn't want them to feel as though I was accepting of their sin, so I made sure to avoid talking about anything involving that situation, and I built up large walls and "loved" with my actions only toward their children, and not necessarily them. Hugging is something I do regularly, and even that was something I avoided doing with them - unless they initiated.

Then, a few weeks ago, I went to a women's retreat. The retreat wasn't filled with "aha!" moments. It was a lovely time and I enjoyed the speaker and the music. Well, most of the music. I am a firm believer that if I do not feel the words to a song are true in my heart, I shouldn't be singing them, but meditating on them. Here's the song that I was struggling with:

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you are my God

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

See that bolded, italicized words? Those were the hardest. I don't know what God had planned, but this is a convicting and terrifying phrase. I want these things - but I don't want the hard part of getting there. "Wherever you would call me" - that removes my control. Scary. As much as I like to think I give God all the control, actually giving it to him is VERY hard. Having trust without borders usually means getting there through struggles, or even worse (for me) needing that much trust. Having your faith be made stronger is awesome, but it generally involves trials - and being a weak human, I don't want to go through trials. At all.

So,  I sat. Quietly. Listening. Struggling. Squirming. Hurting. What was I holding onto so fiercely? I could feel conflict. I could feel frustration. I could tell God was trying to tell me something, but I just didn't know what...

I took time before leaving the retreat to just pray. I wrote down questions for God. What was I holding onto so tightly? I couldn't figure it out.

Once we got back from retreat, I continued to feel...dissatisfied, frustrated, torn. I wanted so badly to know what God was trying to tell me, but I felt like I was preventing him from speaking to me. I didn't want to be open. I was emotional.

Little did I know, this was near the end of this part of the message God was trying to give me. Over the past few months, I had been attending Community Bible Study, where every single week someone would mention about God accepting people where they were. We didn't have to follow rules to earn our place in Heaven - all we had to do was accept Him as our Savior. "Yeah, check. I got that down. And I'm doing ok in that area, thankyouverymuch."

Then, one day, my son and I were driving down a busy road and from the back seat I hear him say "Mom! There's a man standing in a tree!!" I looked around and didn't see anything. I assured him that it was probably just branches that looked like someone was there. Nope. He was certain. He said to me "that is not safe!" "You are right," I replied. "And you know what I'd say to that guy if I saw him myself? I'd say...'You come down from there!' Just like Jesus did with Zacchaeus. Remember that song?" I asked my song "Jesus said 'Zacchaeus! You come down! For I'm going to your house today!" And Jesus said to me, in my heart "YES!!"

Yes. Jesus went into a tax collector's home. The tax collector's were very much despised. They were basically thieves. And they were wrong in their actions and Jesus knew that. YET, He met Zacchaeus where he was comfortable - not where JESUS would be comfortable. Jesus is the greatest example of love that we have and if he can go into places that are uncomfortable and show love - I can (and should) too.

That was the message God had been trying to teach me. Did I like that message? Not much. Was it hard to swallow? Oh, you betcha. And yet, God taught me something. He taught me something through my son, through the Bible (using a Bible song I'd heard in Sunday School for many years as a child), through communing with Him and other believers.

I am still working on loving as God loves. But, I appreciate that He has allowed me to learn through His example. Since that time, I have been trying to love my family members in a more Christ-like way. By loving them where they are. And, thank God, even when I fail - God still loves.


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