Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pursued, Loved and Confident in Him

So I've begun an online Bible Study for the book "A Confident Heart."  While I was excited and knew it would be a good thing for me, I never knew the impact it would have on me...and we are only in week one!

As I've written about often, I struggle with self-doubt, with being good enough, with insecurity about not being competent enough, pretty enough, thin enough.  The list goes on.  I've talked about all the ways I've tried to stop the cycle of these thoughts.  And I fail time and time again.  So I decided I needed to do this study and read this book.

I'm so thankful I did!  This week we are starting to read the book and discussing the first two chapters.  Over this past week, as I was doing my normal morning devotional, I read James 1:17.  I've read it thousands of times before, but this time I read it in a different translation...the VOICE.  I actually discovered this translation from a Facebook post by Mandisa (Christian artist...whose songs I've used in my previous posts).  Let me preface this by saying...there have been many times where I have felt (wrongly) that it has seemed like God has started to give me something I've prayed for only to snatch it back and say, "Just joking!"  I know that is not the case...but I've often felt that way.  Often times it's because I was pursuing something outside of His will or I was determined to have my way.  But every time I am faced with heartache or adversity, that thought crosses my mind.  But then I read this verse...  "Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights.  He is consistent.  He won't change His mind or play tricks in the shadows." Wow.  What a slap upside the head of that recurring thought that I have.  God isn't a God who teases us or entices us with what He doesn't intend for us to have.  And any thought I have that says otherwise isn't from's from the enemy.  An attempt to destroy my confidence in my God.  And in turn leads to doubt and the building up of walls to keep from being rejected or hurt...which in turn leads to isolation and loneliness.

Tonight, as I was reading Chapter 2 of our study, I came across this:  "What we need is someone who will pursue us and accept us even though we're flawed.  Yet most of us doubt anyone would ever stick with us if we let them get too close.  So we put up walls and hide our struggles, even from God, hoping we'll convince Him and everyone else that we're fine."  Again, wow.  That really hit home for me.  I long to be pursued and desired and spite of my flaws.  But often I find myself trying to be something I'm not or trying to live up to someone's expectation of what I should be...thinking that if I do that, then they will want me or want to be with me or will accept me.  I go so far as to building up those thick walls around myself by staying busy, always saying yes even when I shouldn't, never really letting people in, agreeing rather than sharing my opinion for fear of rejection...all in an attempt to hide myself.  I guess thinking I'm not worthy of being pursued or loved or accepted.  And I always tell others I'm doing just fine...even when I'm falling apart inside.  And in this attempt, the real me...the "Lori" God created me to be...gets pushed further and further down until there is little trace of me.  I survive by deflecting any attention from myself to others.  I do my best to make sure the focus is on others so that no one will see my flaws and, thus, reject me.  I'm wonder if the woman at the well felt that way.

The book talks about this woman.  She had been married five times and was living with a man that wasn't her husband.  She was rejected, alone, exhausted and, I'm sure, felt unworthy of love.  She comes to the well to draw water and meets Jesus.  I'm sure she was afraid of the rejection and judgment she so often received from others.  Just like a lot of us...we put on a good face and say we are ok and never let others in...afraid of rejection and judgment.  But Jesus meets her...and meets us...where we all are.  Without judgment.  And willing to accept us where we are.  We don't have to jump through hoops or perform a special trick to impress Him.  He just wants us to come as we are.

Now, I haven't been married five times and am not the talk of the town gossips (as far as I know)...but I have had my share of rejection and judgment.  To the point that it affects current relationships that I have.  I keep up that wall and stay guarded...trying to keep from getting hurt again or being rejected.  And that leads to doubts and questions and worry.  But that is not how God wants me, or you, to live.  He wants us to realize that we ARE loved.  In chapter 2 of the book, Renee says, "...we are valued and pursued by the one who knows us and loves us."  See, God knows me better than I know myself.  He sees right through the walls, the doubts, the insecurities.  And He loves me in spite of all of that.  And if the Creator of this universe loves me with a love that pursues me, what have I to fear?!  I can live in the confidence that if "God is for me, who can be against me..."

See God began a work in me (and in you) the day we were born.  He has a plan and purpose for each of us.  He longs for us to live fully in Him and to experience a joy and peace only He can give.  Philippians 1:6 (again from the VOICE) says, "I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you..."  He won't give up on us!  Ever!  Even when people give up on us or reject us or keep walking right on past us...when someone ignores the deeper need we have...God is right there.  He will never give up on us.  He will never reject us.  He will see the deeper need and work to bring healing and restoration to our lives.

I'm so thankful for that!  I'm so thankful that God isn't finished working on me and won't stop until the work is complete.  I have a long way to go.  But like the woman at the well, I am willing to come to Him, let Him bring healing to those deeply buried hurts and restore my life to the place He wants it to be.  I'm ready to live in confidence and trust the plans He has for me.  I'm ready to throw away the doubt and fear and insecurity and fully live in the joy of the moment.  I'm willing to trust that God pursues me, accepts me and loves me with an everlasting love.  And that even on hard days, I can live with a confident heart!  (And at almost's about time!)

P31 OBS Blog Hop


Lynn said...

Wow...your blog is the first blog I read from today's confident heart study. I cannot describe how every word you wrote expressed just what I have been thinking about myself but you are a much more eloquent writer than me! Thank you for sharing. You brought me to tears and my knees this morning with prayers for all of us who are studying His word to help develop a confident heart.

Cathy Fry said...

Awesome post, love the voice version of Phil.1:6. I too am thankful God is not finished with me and won't stop until I'm complete. Have a great day.

Pamela Pratt said...

Love your take on this Candace. I've been reading your blog for a few weeks and feel connected by God's timing as he continues working on both of us. We seem to be at the same place in our journey with Christ. Have a blessed day!

Pamela Pratt said...

I'm so sorry. I was completely distracted when I sent that post. I loved YOUR take on the story and how you interpreted it to apply to you. I share your stage in your journey with Christ, and look forward as well to see where God leads us. You have a blssed day!

Kris said...

Lori, thank you so much for sharing this! I was really struck by the same quote from chapter 2 and have realized how high and thick those walls around my heart are. And thank you for sharing the verse from Phillipians, I have never read it in that translation and the thought of God NEVER giving up on us is so powerful and awe-striking!! I turned 40 earlier this year, and you're right, it's time we stopped doubting and started living as the women God intended us to be!!

Kris Danko (OBS Small Group Leader)

Lori Parker said...

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments! The thing that really struck me this morning (and that makes me so glad I decided to do this) is that we are never truly alone. This community of women provides support and encouragement and helps to remind me that I am not alone in my struggles. Praying you all have a wonderful, joy filled day!