Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When Life Feels Like Sleep Walking

"Spirit of the Living God
come fall afresh on me,
come wake me from my sleep.
Blow through the caverns of my soul
pour in me, to overflow" Fall Afresh, Jeremy Riddle

What does one do when it feels as though walking through life has become walking in sleep? What happens when you are in a place of low hanging clouds and fog that just will not dissipate? When words fail to describe the dullness that has blanketed your senses and quieted the once blazing flame that ignited your spirit.

How do you shake the dust from your bones?

You keep going. One heavy foot in front of the other. Stepping through muck and mud, you keep moving.  Keep telling yourself truth, keep praying, keep doing.

I wholeheartedly believe that Satan uses the smog of life to snuff out our flames and throw us into a haze that clouds out the vision and passion we once had. The great threat to our faith is not only the "big" sins, but the little ones that add one on top of another until they have devoured our once bright light.

Those little lies that creep in, the ones that feel easier to believe than the truth. You are not enough. Are you sure Jesus said that? That was all in your head. Look how enlightened everyone is, are you sure He exists.

Slowly but surely, those lies grow into bigger and bigger lies that become our truth, After days or weeks or months, we wake up realizing that we don't know which way is up and the life we built around the Truth feels like a sham.

And we have to find our way back to Him.

A few weeks ago I was driving home from a friends house when I encountered the thickest fog I had ever seen. I was driving through a cloud, at night, on country roads that I knew, but not well. I began to pray: "Jesus, help us get home safe, please God let us get home safe." There was no safer option than to keep going, slowly but surely, toward home. The fog was relentless,  I could only see the lines on the road directly in front of my car, visibility was zero. We were enveloped. My fists clung tightly to the steering wheel as we headed straight, all while praising God that the road had few curves. As we approached the busy highway, I found that I could see lights, but even they were so thickly covered that they did little to illuminate the 4 lane highway stretched before me. I had to go, at some point I had to cross two lanes and go. It was the only way to safety. When it seemed there were few cars, I booked it out as quickly and cautiously as possible and began toward the light. As we approached the city, new fears became apparent. Now there were more cars, which meant more chances of accidents. So I prayed, "God, let them see us!" We kept moving.

As we entered the city, the fog remained but lifted to the degree that you could see enough to feel confident on the road. I entered the house, with my two children, thanking God that we were kept safe.

We were kept.

I have found myself having to fight, scared and broken, to find God. The only thing that has managed to get me to the city is to keep moving. It may have felt safer to stop and wait out the fog just as you would a storm, but where would that get you? Fog, true dense, earth swallowing, fog, is not easily moved. It wasn't until almost noon the next day that the sun had burned the fog away. You have to keep moving to get to the light. So we have to move, to trust Him, and go.

God is loving and he searches for his children, but we cannot be stagnant Christians, paralyzed by fear, doubt, and worry. We have to keep going, the fog will eventually burn off and clarity will return.

For me, this has looked like creating the habit of reading my bible every single day. To fill my mind with enough of God's truth that it had the ability to crowd out the lies that had taken up residence. It has meant praying and trusting God's "not yet." Because we are kept in the hands of the Almighty, do we really need to know everything? Can we not rest in knowing that we are His?

And we pray, we sing, we do whatever it takes to feel for the presence of God. The song I had at the beginning of this post is my prayer, often. God come, God fall afresh, wake me up, burn up this fog that has smudged my vision and blanketed my life. Wake me up from this dense sleepiness that has settled in my soul.

The fog will lift, and when it does I hope to be found standing firm in my faith, not run over by my fear.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bright Hope

We sang this hymnal tonight at our monthly team meeting at Church:

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
 Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Simply a beautiful song, not only because of the depth of truth but the girl who sang has a voice that can shake a mountain. Singing truth like this, with power behind my often weak voice, brings me back to center. I feel the Holy Spirit show up and my soul is refreshed, dust shaken off.  So much of this song is relevant to me right now, really to all of us. However, one line stood out among the rest: “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

Isn't that what we all need, all the time? Strength for today AND hope for tomorrow. Not just any hope, bright hope, a hope that illuminates and leads the way in a dark and broken world.  Lately, I have been struggling with both. I feel worn down, overwhelmed, and have been beating myself up for not having it all together. I have lost my strength in today and can’t seem to find hope for tomorrow. I’m stuck.

We all get stuck at times. Stuck in sin. Stuck in ruts. Stuck in habits and hang ups that pull us down. Stuck in the mud of lies that the enemy feeds us. Just stuck. I had an educator once tell me that a counselor’s role is to help people get “un-stuck” which I love the thought of. But what is one to do when they are a counselor and can’t seem to get un-stuck.

Search for Jesus.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

We search because He is always waiting and He never changes. What grace that we have a God whose love for us is no shifting shadow; it remains our bright hope for tomorrow.

Tonight, Jesus reminded me in a variety of ways that he is present, he is with me, he has not abandoned me. Even when I can’t see my future, he holds it gently in his grasp. I feel hope rising up, and for the first time in awhile, it feels bright.