Another great week of prayer and fasting my snooze button is completed! To read about all the answered prayers from week one, click here. This second week presented a few new challenges since school started Monday. I no longer have as much time in the mornings to adjust to my needs for the day. When I have to leave the house by 8:40, I have to wake up in time to do my devotionals as well as get ready for the day! Thankfully, I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays so it is manageable!
Day 7 and 8: Help and Protection
I’ve decided to combine day 7 and 8 because the words go hand and hand. My current daily declaration is, “I am a child of God”. In fact, it’s been my daily declaration over my life for the last few months. I’ve written about it a few times on this blog. It’s the core of my definition, and it’s the identity I have to actively put on each morning. Part of being a child, is embracing the fact that I am weak and dependent on God. In fact, I believe admitting my need for God’s help and protection is essential to keeping a healthy father-daughter relationship. This is tough for me. I love being in control, and am always the last to ask for help. When I went to treatment for my eating disorder in 2012, I remember hearing God urging me to bring my sickness to Him, but I couldn’t do it. I knew God didn’t expect perfect, but I felt pretty confident He didn’t want me to bring my disaster of a life to Him. So, once I had gotten control over my eating disorder, then I went to God ready to be used and transformed. It’s like rinsing off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher to be cleaned. I had other areas in my life that needed cleaning up; however, I felt the need to clean up the eating disorder before going to God because that mess was just too big. By not allowing God to truly help me, I was limiting my understanding of God’s definition of help. He doesn’t have an “I told you so” kind of help. Nothing is too big for God.
On Sunday, Liz shared the verse John 10:14-15 which says,
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
This verse is rich. First, I think it’s important to realize that God compares himself to a shepherd. Out off all the people in the entire world, God chose to compare himself to the unclean, rejects of society. The juxtaposition is humbling. It gives me even more awe at the thought that we were created in God’s image. God knows His people. He knows we are messy. He knows we have dirt, but that doesn’t stop him from taking ownership of His children. He’s willing to identify as the shepherd we relate to, so that we can identify with Him. Whoooo God is too good! I read this and I hear God saying, “I am all the good in you. I am the best parts of what you think are your worst. I don’t see the dirt, I see the DNA that I knit into your being.”
I am reminded that God deeply desires our relationship. He loves because HE loves to love. He doesn’t love because He wants to be loved by everyone. He came into this world as a baby, not a king. Jesus himself had to be dependent and protected. God is reminding me that I am weaker than I think. I am a child of God. Dependence on Him is in the essence of my identity.
Do you ever stop and think about how powerful a baby actually is? The minute you bring a baby into a room, everyone stops and notices. Babies captivate and command attention just by being. They don’t actually have to do anything to entertain a room of adults for hours. And almost no one is insulting the baby. Even when a baby cries for the entirety of a three hour flight, people tend to blame the parents. There is protection in allowing ourselves to be the child. In a world that is constantly pushing us to be leaders and to be independent while not making mistakes or failing (which is an impossible balance), God says just be. He calls us to find rest in His arms, and to influence others not by what we do but by who we are.
Another critical dynamic to the child-parent relationship is obedience. (This is the part where you click away since I wrote the word obedience). Personally, I used to have this idea that obedience was God’s way of making me more “perfect”. He was telling me what to do so that I wouldn’t be bad. Therefore, whenever I disobeyed, I felt bad. I am realizing that obedience isn’t about perfection, but obedience is about protection. God doesn’t want us to pray, read our Bibles, tithe, serve, etc because He’s trying to perfect us. God wants us to do all of these things because He’s trying to protect us. The enemy is waiting for us to disobey so that He can convince us that we are bad children. He’s waiting to plant the seed that we are not worthy of God’s love. But, like the prodigal son, our Father is running with open arms thankful for moments that we are near enough to receive His love. He refuses to listen to why we don’t think we are worthy to be His children, because a parent loves their child simply because they wanted a child to love!
I’m not a parent, but I do have a 17 month old puppy, August Grey, so it’s basically the same thing. One of the things that Gus Gus loves to do is dig through the kitchen trash. No matter how many times we try and redirect his behavior or show him his shiny cool toys, he’s consistently more interested in the trash can. Now, his frequent poor behavior doesn’t make me love him any less. We bought the dog knowing they love to chew on shoes and dig through yesterdays thrown away dinner scraps. It’s expected, and never a real surprise. I think God views me with a similar perspective. He expects disobedient behavior to some extent simply because I am a human and that’s what humans do; however, that will never stop Him from trying to redirect me from digging through yesterday’s trash. Sometimes we wonder why our lives are such a mess, but don’t take time to realize that we have been searching through the garbage. God’s calling us away from our trash so that we can see the wonderful resources only He can provide. The enemy is crouching, ready to leap on any opportunity to smash our calling. We have to be children that protect our calling by allowing God to protect and help us.
Day 9: Comfort
Day 9, Tuesday, was proof of God’s perfect timing. Tuesday was my first day back in classes which meant I had to endure a three hour chemistry lecture. I was in need of some comfort. As I went through my devotional that morning, I felt like my understanding of God’s comfort was too limited. As I read comfort, I heard comfortable…and knew that I wasn’t right. So, I decided to do some more research in The Word. I wasn’t sure where to look, but I felt God telling me to read 2 Corinthians. As I opened my bible to flip there, I was surprised that I had opened up to the exact spot. Now, I don’t think God is always going to direct us to specific passages when we toss our bibles in the air and catch it by a page. But, God knew what I needed and helped me get there. Chapter 1 of 2 Corinthians is titled, “Praise to the God of all comfort”. I was ready to hear God speak.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same suffering we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Man, God revealed to me that comfort is truly about being uncomfortable. It says He comforts us in ALL our troubles, meaning even when our troubles come from being sinful, he’s still there. Personally, I find it easier to go to God for comfort when my trail is caused from something outside of me. I can ask God to comfort me in school or work, because these are necessary evils of life; however, when I am struggling with sin I tend to go to God for forgiveness wayyy before I go to Him for comfort. Why would I ask God to comfort me in my disobedience? God has been reminding me daily that I have forgiveness. I can’t spend my prayer life asking for forgiveness, when it was and is a gift! I’m learning to let God love me in my messiness because that’s what HE desires! He loves broken people.
Also, while reading these verses, the phrase patient endurance really stuck out to me. I think when we go through trails, we tend to expect God to comfort us by immediately calming the storm. We want circumstantial comfort. But God’s comfort isn’t circumstantial. He’s the God of ALL comfort! Patient endurance means that we expect God to provide resolution in His own timing. We can expect God to calm the storms, but we have to learn to be patient. Learning to rely on God’s presence in the midst of the storm is the true test of comfort.
As I reflected on this idea, God placed a vision in my heart. It was me walking out of the boat and onto the water towards God. I felt him telling me that He doesn’t just want me to walk towards Him, but He wants me to walk toward him so He can lead me in a dance. And as I closed my eyes in prayer, I envisioned myself dancing with God on the raging waters. My comfort wasn’t in the chaotic waves surrounding me, but my comfort was in God’s arms.
When I think about Peter’s journey towards Jesus on the water, I wonder what would have happened once He arrived at Jesus’ feet. Peter had asked Jesus to call him to walk on the water, but then what? Personally, I don’t want to live my life constantly asking God to assure me of His presence by drawing me near. I want to do more than just walk on the water. I want to be so sure of His constant presence that I allow him to lead me in a dance. Even when the world around me is crashing, I want to dance.
Day 10: Peace
When I read the intention of the day, I was excited. In early October of 2015, I began to pray daily for peace and joy. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I was tired of living life suffocated by my emotions. As I prayed each morning for uncircumstantial peace and joy, God provided! I have never felt this full of peace and joy so consistently in my life. God has worked miracles!
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7).
We live in a world that loves to worry, and truthfully there is a lot to worry about. More often than not, our worry is planted in future-thinking. But as humans, we are not capable or blessed with the gift of foreknowledge. You know who does have that capability? God. And, God says not to worry! He knows YOUR future, and He loves YOU. It’s in that feeling of personal love, that we find peace. For those who struggle with severe anxiety and/or depression like myself, my advice is to communicate with God. Accept His personal love, and discover what the reassurance of His voice sounds like in your life. It’s hard to trust God, if you don’t know for sure that He loves YOU. He says cast your cares on me because I care for YOU. Until we feel God’s intimate love, it’s hard to trust that He has our back. Put God’s love for you at the center of your life, and watch him displace the worry.
Day 11: Wisdom
Wisdom. I hear people tell me that I am “wise beyond my years” way too often for how unwise I actually am. What some see as wisdom, I see as over-thinking everything to death. The reason I love to blog is because I can reflect and think and think and think and think. My brain spins at three-million miles a second, and it’s exhausting at times. In many ways I find it to inhibit my ability to enjoy the little things. I don’t always know how to simply go from point A to point B in a clean, straight line. Instead, I find myself running circles from point A to point B until I have tired out the route. And, more times than not, I find myself in situations where I’m taking the same round peg trying to get it to fit through the same square hole. I am not that wise.
Now that I’v established how I am the village idiot in most situations, I am thankful that God has a way of using the unusable parts in us. It’s in my moments of circular, unrelenting thinking that I hear God speak to me His wisdom. God doesn’t speak to the wise. God speaks wisdom to those who are willing to listen. I think the world pushes us to want to be original and ground-breaking. Even I find myself reading scriptures, hoping that God will speak unshared wisdom into my life so that I can inspire others. But the truths and promises of God are not saved for one person to hear. God’s wisdom is not suppose to be original. It’s all centered around God’s love for bad people, and should be repeated until everyone knows how loved they are by God. God doesn’t keep secretes, so when we hear God speak something to us, we often hear it repeated to others. God has been really pushing me to stop seeking validation from the world, but instead to seek validation from the holy spirit! God’s validation is MUCH more gratifying because He doesn’t validate our image, but He validates our calling.
Day 12: CONFIDENCE
Oh boy. Confident is not the first word you would use to describe me. I am full of insecurities; however, God has been making some major changes in my life. I think the enemy loves to manipulate our insecurities to cause all kind of trouble. Insecurity and sin go hand and hand.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7).
I think sometimes it’s hard to feel confident in God’s promises when the world’s promises look so good from the outside. But, when we finally attain what the world promises, it leaves us feeling empty and ashamed. We think, “man, everyone looks so happy…something must be wrong with me that (enter world’s idea of happiness) isn’t making me happy.” So, we sew our fig leaves together and put on a smile. God doesn’t call us to be confident in ourselves. He calls us to be confident in Him, knowing that He loves us for EXACTLY who we are. Losing weight, wearing make-up, having xxx amount of twitter followers, or wearing Pinterest worthy outfits won’t make you confident. Confidence comes from feeling loved, and the only one who will love you unconditionally is God. I think learning to let God love you is the first step to not only being confident, but in changing the world! God’s love has a way of bringing security to our insecurity.