When I first gave my life to God, three years ago it was after a few months of searching and questioning Him for what was true. I had many doubts about if the Bible was true, or how could there have been a flood, or how could God have created everything in 7 days? God was so patient with me, and so kind when showing me the answers. He showed me truth in ways that not only blew my mind, but opened me up more to who He is. When I finally realized that God is indeed the One True Living God, creator of the heavens and the earth, I got on my knees and said “take me Lord. Use me as a tool.” It was because of my full submission and willingness that God began an amazing journey in me.
Over the course of the next few months, God prompted me to make many, many changes in my life. It was through the voice of the Holy Spirit I knew what direction He wanted me to take, when making these changes. Most of them were huge changes (how I dressed, what I watched, what music I listened too, how I ate, etc.) and I was obedient to follow all of them. Some were very difficult and some were easy. But I listened, and I followed. I sometimes questioned, and sometimes did not, but I always obeyed.
God has asked me to do a lot of very difficult things. He has asked me to prophesy over pastors and pray and intercede for other church officials, among other things. It was extremely difficult to do some of these things, because it took me way out of my comfort zone. There were times I stomped my feet and complained and cried to Him because I didn’t want to do it. There were times I downright argued with God and told Him “no way”. I can freely admit to you I have had a bad, maybe even terrible, attitude when God has asked me to do difficult things. Not because I am proud of my bad attitude, but because I am not ashamed.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
I have come to an understanding that there are reasons behind my bad attitude or disobedience. God is not angry with me for my behavior. He knows my heart, and knows why I have done what I have done. He is extremely patient and slow to anger, and not looking to punish His children. He wants to teach us and to bring healing to us, so He can perfect us with His divine and perfect love. It is through that love that we learn to trust God, to see that He does not break His word. He is who He says He is in the words of scripture. He is a good Father who wants to bring us into restoration. And that is exactly where I am at: restoration. Restoration is a process and a journey. You do not get there overnight.
I have gone into the depths of my soul with my inner healing. During this process I have strayed far away from that place of strength to serve God. I have just had to do my best to get through often times, and that is OK. God was not asking me to pray for others, or prophesy or anything big during this time. It has been a time of strengthening and healing places that I never knew even existed within me. That is until recently. I had quite a traumatic encounter with someone last year, as God led me to continually speak into this person’s life. I ended up feeling pretty beat up by the experience and wanted to basically have nothing to do with that person ever again. Of course that is not how God works. He has plans that are much greater than the sum of what we see in front of us.
Recently God has been quietly nudging me to once again pray for this person. I have to tell you I was extremely resistant to the idea. I felt hurt and angry, and wanted to “move on”. Yet God continued to gently nudge me into prayer. I fought and argued for days before finally, begrudgingly giving in. Aren’t I sweet? Children have to learn hard lessons in obedience, don’t they? Finally when I did agree to pray, I asked God to tell me what I was to pray. He led me into a very short and specific prayer and I was done. No pain there. Then He prompted me again. I have to admit I was really getting angry at this point. Why couldn’t I just move on?? After all, this person really hurt me. So for two weeks I would fight and argue, then agree to it begrudgingly. Finally it came to the point where the Lord asked me to not pray, but to send an email.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
I admit, I completely flipped my lid. The last thing I wanted to do was to have open communication with someone I felt had treated me terribly. Really. I did not want to do it and I did not care that God asked me to do it. I argued and fought for a week. I told God if He wanted me to do it, I needed confirmation. I asked my husband to pray. I was not going to walk into a trap if this wasn’t really God asking me. The Lord was relentless, in a very kind and gentle way, but relentless nonetheless. He made sure to remind me He had asked me to do this and I was not obeying. Why in the world would God ask me to do something that was painful and basically terrifying to me? Why!
The reason for the email, I thought, was to tell this person I forgive them. The irony in that is that I had not actually forgiven them at all. So I sat down in my quiet time and worked through my feelings for this person. I thought I had moved on, but in reality, I was holding on to a huge grudge. Holding a grudge is dangerous territory. It’s basically an open door to allow darkness to run through you. Which is the opposite of what I have been working so hard to heal from. So I asked the Lord to help me understand all my anger. It turns out, my anger towards this person was actually stemmed from a deep place within me, that was triggered by a very painful event from my past. It was not really this person that was causing me so much pain, it was the wounds of the past that had never been healed. This person was just a representation of some really awful stuff still deep within me.
Once I got to a place of understanding why there was so much anger, I asked to Lord to help me see how He sees this person. It was hard to hear, when you want to vilify someone, but of course the Lord never sees things from our human perspective. He sees things from a much higher plane, that is grounded in His perfect love and understanding. The Lord helped me to forgive someone who I had been holding on to hatred for, for almost a year. That was a huge moment. So finally, a few days later, I decided to just email the guy. I really did not want to, and had hoped just forgiving him would be good enough. Nope.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
As I began to write the email, I asked the Lord what to say. Well guess what? He did not want me to write to forgive him, He wanted me to write to ask to be forgiven. Seriously? That was even harder than what I originally thought I was writing about. It’s one thing to forgive someone, but it’s entirely different thing to see my own sin of anger towards another, and be humble enough to admit it to them. Wow. I thought it was bad just being asked to pray for someone that hurt me, and here I am now apologizing to them. I felt like I was opening a door to trouble and strife. I went through with the email, careful to say only what I heard the Lord asking me to say. Sent.
I had a panic moment. I was filled with fear that I had open the lines of communication with someone who had felt like an enemy. I had to talk through it with a friend and pray for God’s help. He would not ask me to do something that was going to bring me harm. He has a bigger plan. I had to remember that, and trust Him. It is hard. As I sit here writing this a few hours later, I actually feel gleeful. Gleeful! Who would have thought, that one act of obedience could bring joy into my very being. You see the Lord turned something that looked like one little random act, and used it for my good. Yes it will accomplish something I can’t understand yet, but it really brought me freedom. I found forgiveness, healing, and humility. All because I decided to obey the Lord. Wow. That is pretty big.
God is always going to invite us to do things that we feel are way to hard for us to do. And not just hard, but completely out of our comfort zone. We might feel unequipped, not worthy, or a host of other feelings about trying to do these things. The Lord knows much better than that. God does not call us because we are equipped or good enough to do it; He calls us because He is going to use it for our good. He calls us because in His eyes, we are worthy to Him. He calls us because ultimately He only wants to partner with us, and teach us how to do what He has created us to do. The reason we fail to obey is not because we are horrible people who are disobedient and worthless. No. Remember, God sees our hearts. The reason we fall short of what God is inviting us into, is because through many circumstances in our lives, we have created a well of pain that we have walled off with cinder bricks in order to protect ourselves. Then we walk away and forget that there was ever anything behind that wall in the first place.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Yet while we are convinced we are safe hiding those dark places away, we have also kept them from the Lord, the One who will heal us. And behind that wall is a festering wound that has such a foul stench it invites the very dogs of hell to come sniffing around. The Lord knows why we built the wall. He knows why we don’t want to look at those dark places again. He understands the pain that was so deep we had to turn a blind eye to it. He also knows the miracles He could work on those hidden places, if we would only let Him in. That is where our heart condition lies. Behind the festering wound we try so desperately to keep hidden. Without access to it, God cannot change us. He cannot violate our free will, by going to those places without our permission.
Instead of looking down on ourselves for our failure to obey God, or even for our bad attitudes about what He has asked us to do, we need to stop and realize there is a much bigger picture at play. Condemnation is not of God, but a trick of our enemy, the devil. He would love for us to focus on being “good” and obedient, and ignore the condition of our hearts. If we obey out of duty rather than love, we are not really obeying at all. We need to surrender the places of pain that have been damaged to God, and let Him bring us into righteousness. Then we can obey with grateful hearts, out of love.
I am still a work in progress. I have a long way to go. Obedience is not just an act, but a relationship. We need to work on having a right relationship with God, trusting Him and letting Him in, in order to truly come to obedience to God. Let God show you how tender His feelings are towards you. Take a chance and open the door for Him, and let Him help you knock those walls down. Stop beating yourself up because you fear to obey, and start allowing yourself room to breathe in His presence. Jesus will fill you and strengthen you, if you just sit in His presence. He will bring you the freedom and healing you so desperately desire. One step at a time.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.