Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Do I Trust Him Even If...

"Knock with caution at the door.  They said, 'Beware of what you're praying for."  So I'll stand with my whole desire in the middle of this forest fire till I've nothing left to show, and new life begins to grow." - Burnin', Nichole Nordeman

"Not for the sake of a creed or a cause.  Not for a dream or a promise.  Simply because It is Jesus who calls, and if we believe, we'll obey." - For the Sake of the Call, Steven Curtis Chapman

Over the past few months, God has done some really amazing things in my life.  I've shared all of the wonderful opportunities and blessings on previous blogs.  But sometimes I get distracted by the blessings (and yes, that is possible) and lose my focus on the One who gave me those blessings.  And it is in those times that I begin to live with fear and doubt and questions.  

Throughout my life, I have seen the hand of God.  I have seen through both good and bad times that He has been there.  I've prayed many times for Him to increase my faith or give me patience or make me more like who He created me to be.  However, when He begins to do those things, I fight it.  I don't do this intentionally.  But when things start to get difficult, I get scared.  I wonder if I'm on the right path.  I wonder if this is really what God has led me to do.  I wonder if I've mis-read the signs and have just read into things.  But God didn't call us to a life of ease and comfort.  And sometimes questioning and struggle are part of the process.

A lot of people think that once you become a Christian or you dedicate yourself more fully to following God's plan for your life that things will just automatically fall into place and be easy.  But that's not the case.  If anything, making those decisions often means life becomes more difficult and struggles become more real.  When we choose to follow God, the enemy gets angry and tries everything he can to derail us.  For me, he always attacks my mind and my thoughts.  I've said it before in previous mind runs ninety to nothing 24/7.  And when I get overly exhausted or have too much going on that takes my focus off of God, I'm a prime target for those attacks.  I read into things way to much.  I over-analyze situations.  I doubt and question every decision I've made.  My imagination goes into over-drive.  It's something I've always struggled with, but I am slowly winning the battle.  

See, God didn't call us to a life in Him for our comfort.  He calls us to a life in Him so that we can serve Him by serving others, become holy and bring Him glory.  This is never an easy task.  And the process often brings pain and struggle and tears.  We are being refined like gold in a fire...and it hurts.  A lot.  Nichole Nordeman has a song called Burnin'.  I have grown to love this song over the past month.  It talks about how, when we truly seek to know Him more, seek to live according to His plans for our life and seek to deepen our faith, it causes a "burning" in our souls.  Jeremiah said, "Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire, Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not" (Jeremiah 20:9).  I myself have had those moments, especially here lately, where I have been overwhelmed to the point of tears.  I've had many quiet moments alone where I can so clearly feel God's presence near me.  I actually do have a "burning" in my soul.  However, this burning is meant to rid us of ourselves in order to make us new, into the person God is calling us to be.  It's a difficult that gold that has been refined in the fire.  And the closer we become to God, the more the enemy launches those attacks.  So at a time when I should be full of excitement, I have had moments where I'm not.  It's hard to admit that...especially when, on the outside looking in, everything seems to be "falling into place."  And I'm not saying that things aren't.  But I know that in the middle of all the good I've had some really dark moments that weren't so good.  But God has been there in each of those moments and reminds me that this journey is all about Him and not about my comfort.

See, even when things are going well, there are still issues to be resolved.  Issues of the heart.  Issues with finances.  Issues with my relationships...with God and with other people.  Issues with trust.  Issues with worry over the future.  Issues I've dealt with at some point off and on my whole life.  Issues we all deal with at some point.  But it's when those issues arise that we have a choice to make.  We can either wallow in the doubt, self-pity, shame, guilt, worry, whatever emotion is there.  Or we can bring the issue to God, lay ourself bare before Him and trust Him to do what is best.  It doesn't mean the fear or doubt or whatever goes away immediately.  At least not in my own life.  But I have found that in spite of whatever the issue is, I have a peace.  A peace to know that God will never leave me or forsake me.  A peace to know that no matter what the outcome is, He is there.  No matter what difficulty arises, He will provide.  I'm going to have days where I doubt.  I'm going to have days where I wonder how I'm going to pay a bill.  I'll have days where I wonder if I'm crazy for taking so big a risk.  I'll have days where I wonder if I should just give up.  But when I have one of those days, I'll bring it to the One who already has the answer and whose plans far exceed mine.  

We have to reach a point in our life where we realize that we are trusting in God for no other reason than He has called us.  Steven Curtis Chapman's song For the Sake of the Call says it best:  "Not for the sake of a creed or a cause.  Not for a dream or a promise.  Simply because It is Jesus who calls, and if we believe, we'll obey."  That's a hard place to get to sometimes.  At least for me.  I have dreams I am trusting Him for.  I claim promises that He gives.  I am the first to jump up and fight for a cause I believe in.  However, if I never get those dreams, if He chooses to delay fulfilling a promise, if the cause becomes worthless...will I still trust Him?  

It's a tough question.  It's easy to follow God when everything is going our way.  When the money is there, when relationships run smoothly, when the job promotion comes, when life is carefree.  But what happens when devastation hits?  A parent dies.  You lose a job.  The money appears to be running out with no relief in sight.  A relationship fails. I've faced each and every one of those situations at some point in my life.  And honestly, I can't always say I've chosen to still trust Him.  I have yelled and argued with HIm (it's ok...He can handle it).  I have doubted Him.  I have questioned Him.  I have begged and pleaded with Him.  Eventually, I always come back around and do trust Him.  But that's not enough.  My goal is to reach a point where I bypass all that middle stuff...the doubt, the questions, the arguing, the begging and pleading...and simply trust.  It's not like He hasn't proven Himself time and time again.  But it's a struggle...and one the enemy gloats over when I give in to it.  But my God is bigger than that.  And bigger than anything that comes my way.

So as I go through this week, my prayer is that I will trust God more fully.  That I will see the difficulty as my "testing by fire" and know that I will come out refined, stronger, better and more like the person He created me to be.  That I will choose to ignore the emotions and the attacks on my mind and choose to trust His promises.  That even if He delays in fulfilling His promises or holds off on granting the desires of my heart I will still trust Him.  That I will trust Him "simply because it is Jesus who calls" and not because of what He can do for me or give me.  That I will trust Him even in the quiet times, the dark times, the weary times.  And that He will stir the fire in my soul...even though it may bring momentary pain...because I know "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17).  I have found that when I focus on Him rather than on the blessings He bestows, I do trust Him even if...

Burnin' by Nichole Nordeman (not my favorite video but the song is what is important)

For the Sake of the Call by Steven Curtis Chapman