Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

“One Word” Disappointment

Here’s the thing about “one word” for 2015: I’m just not sure how much I buy into it.

There, I finally said it. 🙂

It’s not that I doubt others when they claim to have received a word from the Lord to focus their year around, and I would never tell others to quit choosing a word, especially when they find it meaningful and purposeful. I’m just a skeptic in general. And to be honest, I’m not sure my word has changed all that much from what the Father was teaching me last year.  So, I find myself struggling with whether to really embrace the idea or not.

It feels a little forced to me, I suppose.

Yesterday, when I read about the same ol’, same ol’ from Grace Covers Me, I felt so relieved! I’m not alone in my doubts or frustrations over the one-word frenzy.  I’m not the only one lacking in the one-word department. I’m not a spiritual failure.

Maybe that’s what it really comes down to: fear of failure.

I’m afraid to choose a word – what if I get it wrong?  What if it’s my will doing the leading in choosing it and not the Father’s? What if I don’t like my word for the year 2015?

One Word for 2015, disappointed in your One Word,  one word struggles

And you know, that’s exactly what happened.

I’ve been praying, even begging, the Lord to give me insight. To open my eyes to His plans for this year. To provoke change this year.  I’ve wasted too many moments worrying about this one word, as if the word itself held power over me rather than Christ Himself.

Finally, I decided maybe I wasn’t supposed to have a word for this year. I quit looking for my one word everywhere, quit justifying the words I wanted to choose for myself.  I decided I could skip the one-word link-up or just choose one of the verses that keep popping up for me instead and run with that.

But then one morning we had this quiet heart conversation.

…………………………………………….

Persevere.

What?

Persevere. That’s your word.

I don’t really like that word, Lord. It sounds hard and possibly painful. And we’ve already done a year of trials and suffering. We’ve already been discouraged and overwhelmed.  What about “Overcome?” That word sounds better to me. It’s joyful and final, and I know the ending of that word is good. That word means triumph, and isn’t that true, Father? We have victory in You!

But your word is Persevere, Beloved.  The triumph is coming, don’t doubt that. The victory is at hand, and is in fact, already yours. You’re like a child who sits willingly for a little while, learning the lesson, yet too quickly you hop up from this place. You think you understand, but you’ve only grazed the surface of the banquet of learning I have to offer you. Be patient. I know you’ve struggled long. Be patient; be still. Sit for the full lesson. Do not leave the table so eagerly, sure you have have found “the answer.” Sit. Wait. Stay (Ps. 27:14).

But in your staying, don’t lose heart, Daughter, Beloved One. I promise growth, imperfect progress (Phil. 1:6). I promise blessing (Luke 1:45). I promise rescue and deliverance and victory (Ex. 14:14). You will overcome! You will prevail. I am the God of the impossible and the God who keeps His promises.

I am.

Don’t run ahead; stay by my side and let me shelter you.

Don’t lose faith now. Persevere.

one word 2015, one word worries, persevere

Oh, Father, I’m so weary and so frail. I’m so ready for the rescue. I want a different word, yet not my will but Yours. Help my unbelief. Help my trembling heart. Give me “chazaq,” courage to persevere even in this. When I am weak, then I am strong. Don’t let me forget it!

I will never let go, Daughter. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are not in this alone, for I walk by your side, even more I carry you.  That’s the deliverance you receive now. I carry you. I am with you. I don’t ask you to persevere alone and by your own strength, but by my Might (Josh. 1:9).

Persevere!

Ok , Father. Ok. I see now, although not yet fully. I see there is power in persevering. I see the hopeful waiting, the strong assurance that You will not leave us here to waste away. I see the strength in that stance. I feel the joy in it!  I hear you calling me to stand, yet not to run. No, not yet. But soon. I will follow You and wait on You. You are the Lord God, the lover of my soul. You make all things new in Your time. So, I will wait and only by your grace, I will persevere.

…………………………………………….

I’m certain this conversation will keep playing out for me, stubborn, sinful thing that I am. 🙂  I still have a few lingering doubts about “one word” but I find value in this process, for it required much abiding in Him. And that’s never a bad thing.

My friends, if you find yourselves lost in the one-word frenzy, don’t despair. You are not alone. Even more, if you’ve heard His voice, yet find disappointment in what He has to say, take heart. He will carry you through.

As my friend Arabah Joy wrote in Trust Without Borders:

“Why do we languish when we have so great a salvation?  He will not remove His compassions from us and His mercies are not without effect! ….We can throw ourselves fully upon His mercy and on His good character, knowing that he who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed.”

So there it is – the same ol’, same ol’.

But as Christine wrote at Grace Covers Me,

“OK, so maybe “same-old”, minus the negative connotation, isn’t such a bad choice after all. Same-old dependence. Same-old faith. Same-old consistency. Same-old ministry. Same-old following. Same-old day-in, day-out walking with the Lord.”

I can’t say for certain that this word will be mine all year long, but I do believe it’s mine for now.

Same ol’ truth; new perspective.

Persevere.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Grace & Truth Christian Living

Sharing with: The Loft

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Waiting While Sea Billows Roll

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It’s more than a bad hair day and more than spilled milk.  It’s one of “those” days, the ones you really do weep over, when wave after wave of some new trial sweeps over you as you struggle to swim.  And just as you gain your feet, another waves swells up before you.  We all have them… those days (sigh).  In the midst of such trials, we can do little else than cry out for mercy, for deliverance.

And sometimes “those” days last longer than just a day or two, or even a week.  Sometimes, we experience whole seasons of “those” days, whole seasons of trial, and illness, and heartache.

If you read regularly here, you know our family has been in the midst of such a season for a while now.  I’ve been wanting to share with you all some of my “discussions” with the Lord about this spot He has us in, but I’ve honestly been confused about the message He’s trying to give me.  I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but I do want to allow myself the grace to rest and recover when needed.  I want to keep using  those Grace-colored glasses He’s been teaching me about.

You see, it’s not just the practical and physical difficulties of a trial that make life on one of those days oh-so-difficult, but it’s the emotions that come along for the ride, too.  Emotions like frustration, guilt, doubt, confusion, sorrow.  I’m frustrated by the condition of my physical body and even by the condition of my fragile emotions.  They’re letting me down!  And I feel guilty about my absence as the Mom, the flusher-of-toilets, the light-turner-offer, the schedule-keeper, the cooker-of-food, the kisser-of-boo-boos, the one who makes a home a home.  I see my husband grow weary with the extra burdens, and I wish I could bear my fair share.

What I really wanted to give you was a how-to post:  how to survive when Mom can’t be mom.  I do have a few ideas about that one, a few tips the Lord has been helping me with.  He’s been telling me to lower my expectations.  So what if the twins watch an extra hour of cartoons?  So what if beds go unmade and the soccer shirts aren’t clean on game day?  If at the of the day, we’re all fed and alive, then we’re surviving!  Or what about Teamwork – be a team with your spouse?  Yes, that’s a good tip, too.  When I feel overwhelmed by circumstances in life, I often fight against my husband instead of with him.  In return, I reap the added burden of marital strife to an already trying situation. So, teamwork is good, blaming my husband for my own limitations and frustrations is bad.  Okay, I got that. 🙂

Resist Satan’s Lies – tip number three.  Of course, I know that in spite of my guilty feelings, I’m doing the best I can and that’s enough for the Lord.  Of course I know that He promises to be my Deliverer.  But sometimes I just don’t want to wait for deliverance.  I’d rather try to fix it myself, right?  Are you with me here?

Lean on the Lord for both physical and emotional strength. That’s a good one, right?  Chin up, soldier because God is on your side.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  And all of the other platitudes we like to splatter about when someone is suffering a trial.  They’re all true; they really are, but sometimes they do little to comfort the weary soul. Sometimes instead of lifting us up, those verses make us feel like crummy Christians.  Because if I’m not “counting it all joy” every single day of this trial, then I’m once again failing somehow, am I not?

And what about “count your blessings,” which goes right along with “think of those less fortunate”?  You know some days that really works for me. Most of the time, I can see all of the good things around me that the Lord has blessed me with.  I can find the silver linings.  I know that my temporary suffering pales in the face of what others have gone through before me, namely Jesus.  But some days I can count my blessings, think of others,  and still feel frail.  Some days I know I’m not clinging to joy, I’m not embracing peace, because I have no strength left to do so!

So while I sit and think on all of these good things I feel I should be doing to try to help myself in this season of trial, the waves grow all the stronger and more ominous around me. Crashing, crashing, always crashing, this storm in my soul. I feel like Jacob, wrestling with the Lord, and I wonder, what’s wrong with me? Why can I not seem to overcome?  Am I not obedient enough?  Not trusting enough?  Not hopeful enough? Have I sinned in some way I’m not aware of?

Then,  I read this post here about not having a formula for success in the midst of trial but just “hanging on for dear life” and this post here about resting in the mud, in the mess of it, because He’s willing to sit right there with us.  I began to wonder if I was seeing it all wrong, if I was trying to earn favor rather than be willing to receive favor.

I’m beginning to hear a new song from the Lord, a new song to my weary soul. His song tells of a Shelter in the storm, strength found less in doing and more in waiting, a peace gained not from a change in circumstance but from His very presence.

In my devotion time this week I feasted on these lines that seemed to be meant just for me:

“We must learn to wait on the Lord and look for His return…. As you wait on Him, you will discover that this attitude renews your spiritual strength, clears your perspective, and reduces your giant-sized problems to manageable size.  Let David’s words become your marching orders: ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’” [Excerpt from Joy of Living Bible Studies: Hebrews, pg. 102]

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In the original language, this word wait is qavah (pronounced kaw-vaw’) and is a verb meaning to look for, to wait for, to hope for.  I found it even more interesting that the original meaning was one of binding together by twisting, as in a rope.  And here I am, dangling at the end of mine. 🙂   I found that this verb is very active, not an idle sitting by the wayside, but an expectant waiting.  We are to actively be on the “look out” for the Lord to work on our behalf. While we wait, qavah, we are also to be strong.

The phrase “be strong” from the Hebrew word chazaq (prounounced khaw-zak’) is also a verb.  Maybe you’re not as nerdy as I am about grammar, so that might not mean much to you.  However, in essence, this chazaq is an act, something done rather than a state of being.  It was used numerous times in the Old Testament to describe a scene of supernatural strength: David vs. Goliath, Samson’s final act, Joshua’s entrance into the Promised Land.  So this being strong is an act that comes not from any natural or human means, but only from the Lord.  Thus, it’s impossible for us to “be strong” in the chazaq sense on our own. [NASB, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible]

So, how does that look, practically speaking?  I mean, how can I wait and be strong without striving and stressing?  I can be quick to meet Satan’s lies with truth from the Word.  I can earnestly seek moments of joy in a day full of trials.  I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?  Because some days I don’t have it in me.  That’s the key right there – it’s not in me to wait and be strong.  What is naturally in me is to despair, to cry “Mercy, Father, it’s too much!”  And maybe sometimes that’s just the best place to be: at the Father’s feet, completely undone, utterly dependent on Him alone.  No strength of our own left.  Completely at His mercy.  Humbled and low-down.  At the end of the proverbial rope.

I’ll be honest, that’s a really hard place to sit in.  I much prefer to jump up and busy myself doing something because at least then I feel useful.  But what if that’s not what He desires?  What if what He most desires is to hear me admit, I can’t do it, Father – I’m not capable –  I need help I think the most difficult aspect of learning to walk a road of suffering is understanding when to “be still” and when to “soldier on.”  I still don’t have it figured out. I seem to pendulum swing between the two, trying to find that balance.  Some days I’m all “onward Christian soldiers” and others I’m moaning about like an Israelite, lost in the desert. 🙂 It’s all part of His work in progress in me.

So this is the heart of my struggle, really.  What is it you require of me, Lord?

Here’s how I believe He’s answering me:

Daughter of mine, wait for Me.  Listen for My voice.  When it’s time to get up and walk, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for you to sit and take rest at my feet, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for me to carry you because you have absolutely nothing left to give, then I will carry you.  Stop trying so hard and just rest in my embrace.  No squirming now, not yet.  Sit. Relax. Cry if you need to.  Confess if you need to. Question if you need to.  I’m big enough to handle all of that and more.  Just let Me hold you because that’s all I really want.  You, beloved daughter.  I want you.  Take heart; rescue WILL come, for I am the Faithful One, God of all Hope and Comfort.  But for now, just wait.

Because the truth is that our Father God loves with a perfect love, so much more perfect than ours.  Which one of us mothers would look at wounded, heartbroken child and chide her for her tears? I’m not talking about tantrum tears or even repentance tears, but tears of helplessness and hurt.  Does their sorrow not bring forth our very compassion?   And which one of us mothers would not come rushing to the aid of a child calling urgently for help?  Which one of us would refuse to comfort and console?  Which of us would leave that child to struggle alone?  We would not.  We cannot because our love compels us to respond.  If this is the way we imperfect humans feel about our children, how much more so does our Father God have compassion for us, His beloved, chosen ones?

With that perspective, those crashing waves don’t seem so ominous anymore.  They still knock me down from time to time, but maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly where I need to be.  Perhaps those waves of trial aren’t reaching up at my waist in order to suck me under, drown me, but to push me to a better shore.  If I would just quit fighting them, give in, and ride the momentum, I’d find myself safely on the other side.  And there I can find the rest my soul is so desperate for.

My sister in Christ, if you’re struggling in the surf of suffering today, take heart.  You are not alone. Rescue is near.  He welcomes you into His embrace and asks that you just sit a while. Listen for His voice.

And just wait.

Jen 🙂

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/just-one-of-those-days-again/

I’ll also be linking up at any of these places.

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