Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

January 17, 2016

redeemed and being redeemed

I wish I could report that I was not the one on the downward spiral of destruction.  But I rather be honest than a fake.

I had all these circumstances piling up against me.  I won’t list them all, as it might depress even you, but trust me it was/is still long. I had a lot coming at me and my response was Help!!  Deliver me!!  Help me….but that was not happening.  Instead it felt like the storm intensified!  So much for help, I thought.

Hitting rock bottom I realized I do not think God cares or hears or is with me.  Oh, I can see He is around me, working in others lives, helping them, etc but not in mine.  I was blinded by lies. But so far gone that lies became truth and truth became lies.

I was not letting God use any of these things to shape my life into something beautiful.  I became bitter, distraught and depressed. It was all too much.
We are going through a course by Dr Bruce Wilkinson with our boys, entitled The Testing of your Faith. I know it well, have gone through it a few times, but as I sat there and listened the Holy Spirit showed me that I am in a huge test of faith. As Dr W named the things you should never doubt when in a test I could tick them off one by one – unfortunately a negative kind of tick mark…So, I realized this was definitely my test.

In a test of faith God usually wants you to pass the test and work on things you don’t believe about Him.  What was my test about?  What did all of these things have in common?
Well, for one I did not believe God was caring for me as a woman out here in the sticks. I felt it is all good and well being a boy or a man here but a woman?  Not so easy. I also did not think God knew what I needed – I have been praying for a good friend for years, one that knows what you are thinking before you say it, one who I can just sit and be without a lot of words. Nothing coming.  Even though there were some, because of others it also did not work out (and I was blaming people here!) In any case so my sad list went on.  All in all it boiled own to the fact that I did not trust God for me. I trusted Him for my husband, my kids, the unbelievers around me and I saw many ways in which he did just that – care for them, intervene, save, help, etc! But for me, not so much and mainly because I was not letting Him for several very real (to my mind) reasons.

I lost trust because I was asking God’s help but prescribing how He should go about it.  I think I tried explaining that in the previous post.  This was not helping me at all, as I was losing hope and fast.
I needed to trust God regardless of the outcome. That was hard for me.  As I prayed one morning I had this picture of me clinging unto a cliff.  I was shouting for help!  I was desperately waiting for someone to recue me, throw me a rope, get a better grip on the rocks, anything really!  But God was gently asking me to jump. 
Yip, jump down in to water.  So I declined as there might be sharp rocks or crocs or who knows what down there!  Not trusting I still clung.

Quite a picture!  I had to trust in God for everything and then trust Him some more not to harm me as I trusted Him.  Does any of this make sense?   To me it did!

My solutions to the problems were in not thinking up solutions - it was to trust God to use every one of these difficulties, disappointments and problems to shape my into the image of Jesus.  I had to let go and trust that all these things were for my good if I let God use them.

Jerry Sittser in his book, A Grace Revealed says it perfectly:

I belong to God.  He will not let me go. In Philippians 2 it says: "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purposes." God was bringing all these things together - literally piling them up to make me see something huge that was harming me. God had me all this time in His hand, never once letting me go. Wanting to make me into something beautiful glorifying to Him! Rather than asking - why,oh why, me? I am asking how can God use this to make me more into the likeness of His son.  For sure, i have a long way to go, but i am on my way or actually more correctly, on God's way.

So i let go of the cliff, jumped and i fell into wonderful calm waters, save and sound, trusting.

bella, redeemed and being redeemed.

January 11, 2016

Being thankful with an ungrateful heart....

So this is me....Thank You Lord for the hot shower. Then a couple of days later.....Thank You for a little bit of water to use for a shower! Then after another week....thank You for being able to at least wash my feet tonight! Then blissfully it rains but now my thankful prayer goes like this....thank you for my dear husband heating water for me from the village well because our water stinks something unbearably! 

Yip, that's me, thanking with an unthankful heart! Because even though it all sounds very grateful it was not. In my heart i was adding a "even if..." each time.
I don't want to thank God for all these plans we can make...all i want is a hassle free shower! But i keep on trying. So i trudge on saying thank you's and trying to see the blessings in the hard times all the while wishing that they would just go away and leave me in peace. To just get a break of looking hard for things to be thankful for.....

And this continues over years and in all areas...Thank you that I can make new rose bushes even after the termites destroyed more than 2/3 of my roses...Thank you for helping us get over malaria even if we all had to fly out with huge costs to get better and still have debt....Thank you that i have hair even though it went all grey and white before 40....Thank you for a school room even though we have not been in there for a long time because we were all sick for weeks on end. And so it goes on and on....making the right sounds, going through the motions but nothing touches my heart. Thank You, even if...You did 't show up (how i wanted You to!)

And i grow weary because this a weary business trying to put up a brave face while inside i am not-so-slowly falling apart. And my thoughts turn dark and i see very little light. Just me trying to be thankful churning out meaningless phrases, the pressure building up inside me, this forced thankfulness. A thankful volcano about to erupt if you ever saw one!

I wouldn't say i am an optimist, or if i ever was, this country sure cured me of that! I am also not a pessimist - although i am getting closer to being one! I would say i am realist....and living out here it has helped. But even a realist can be worn down after ever so many trials. I am close to taking flight like Elijah, off into the desert to lie down under the broom tree and say.  Enough, Lord! Take my life. I have had enough.

Thank You....but....or Thank You, even if it was not how i thought it would be....
My conditions were causing my downfall. Instead of being thankful i was becoming resentful. Sarcastically wondering what on earth i could delve out to be thankful for next....and with every thought falling deeper into the pit.

I had high hopes how God should bless me and my house and garden. Not many of them came true and it was getting to me, these self-thought-out expectations of what i wanted from God. The other thing that was starting to happen was that God became very small and weak in my opinion. He did not intervene in Might and Power as i dreamed up, instead He gave me the Still Power to continue each day, even showing me things to be grateful for! But blind old me did not see.

When Elijah went out to the desert and lay down to die God woke him up, gave him food and send him off deeper into the desert to speak to him. There was a great and powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. There was a fire, but once again, the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there came a gentle whisper and there was God.
How many times do i expect the powerful wind, the roaring earthquake or the raging fire only to encounter the Gentle Whisper and then be disappointed? Do i sit still and listen? And even more important, take heed?

Just to drive home my point i read about Paul's life. Pretty amazing taken into account it was he who said Rejoice! And Be Thankful in everything! Here is his probably inconclusive list....
Imprisoned, flogged, left for dead, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked x3!, spent a day and night on the open sea, constantly on the move, in danger from rivers, bandits, own people, Gentiles, in danger in cities, the country, the sea, in danger from false brothers. Laboring and toiling away, going without sleep, hungry and thirsty, been cold and naked. And then he ends all of this by saying "That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when i am weak, then I am strong."

If i look back over the past few years, i have great and many reasons to jump for joy and be delighted on a daily basis! I could write my own very long list of difficulties! But sadly i am not. I want the easy life, the good things piling up and i don't want any hardships or insults or difficulties. I hang my head in shame and i know I wasted all these years of hardships and i didn't grow at all. I wanted to be strong and not weak. I wanted the easy way. I wanted God to act like a genie and swoop in and make it all better or right or good or perfect. 

Meantime back at the ranch.... :) God was trying to teach me to trust Him in all the difficulties. Trying to teach me that this is a fallen world but He will work out things for my good. Trying to teach me that when i am at my weakest He is strongest in me, helping me, guiding me, giving plans, etc! I need to be dependent on Him and not myself. Only then can i cope, really cope with it all. Sigh, thank You Lord for your patience. 

Bella, learning hard lessons.