The last little while has been a growing time for me. And a challenge. Ending with another "goodbye for now".
I won't go in to personal details, but the past few days have really been a test for me.
My relationship with God had become much stronger. Through reading a WONDERFUL book (Psalm 91) I faced many areas in my life that I had become to complacent in with my relationship. And realized that I was blaming God for so many things that I KNEW He wasn't just "doing" to me...and I knew it wasn't about Him causing me heartache just to turn back to Him.
I turned back (not that I ever left my faith...let me just get that straight right off the bat. I just got lazy!) to Him because I realize more than ever that it is in these times of sadness and heartbreak and goodbyes that I need Him all the more. To carry my burdens. And to realize that He holds the ones I long to see.
Life is full of tests. Life is full of evil and sin and darkness. But it is also full of grace, and love and opportunities to trust that God remains true to His word. All He can do is extend His hand to us. He will never force Himself on us. And He does not create sadness "just because".
I know when life is going good for me it is easy for me to stay in His word and belt out the praise and worship songs and prayers. Yet, when life throws a curve ball...no matter how logically you knew odds to be in your situation...it's so easy to want to get angry and say "but I was trusting You! I was being faithful! I was being strong!" (insert feet pounding on the ground in temper tantrum style!)
Guess what...those are the times where we need to STAY trusting. To STAY faithful. To STAY strong. No tantrum foot-stomping, no fist-in-the-air waving. To STAY in His word. To keep belting out those praise and worship songs.
Yes...the ache in my heart remains. They feel like they keep adding up. But by remaining focused on God's love and faithfulness and protection and promise to carry me through all things (if I let Him!!)...the ache stays at bay and doesn't turn to bitterness and accusations.
The enemy knows my weakness. He knows where to beat me up when I fall down. He knows that I find it very easy to blame myself for things that were never in my control. He knows that I want to keep my guard up against hope when hope seems to fail.
But I realize this more and more. I realize his ways. I realize the horrid, awful thoughts that he whispers to me. And even though it is easy for me to fall for them and believe them...I am believing more and more that my God loves me more than I know. And more than I deserve. And that He hurts when I hurt. And all He wants to do is to be there for me. But I have to be the one to let Him.
I have a hard time admitting to people my true feelings. For some reason I just plaster on this smile and ensure that everything is okay, and that I'm doing okay. Most of the time it is true. But for some reason I guess I just fear that when someone asks me how I'm doing...they really won't be prepared for my answer some times. And I already know they don't have the answers to my sorrows...so I don't want to make things awkward. To smile and put on the brave front is easier. Granted...that creates a big feeling of loneliness a lot of the times. But, that is my choice, unless I allow a person in to the details of my heart. But that is scary for me.
And I guess after Zac passed away...I felt the same with God. I was scared to allow Him the details of my heart, because I didn't know how to talk about it, and I didn't want to hurt when I didn't get an answer.
But I'm learning. I am. And through this last disappointment I am really trying really hard to stay focused on God's voice and His truths.
As always...music is the key to my heart. And although it often is also a huge opening to a floodgate of tears, it is good to have those moments.
A few songs from the CD Here Is Love (Bethel Live) have been really strong encouragers for me. Hard to hear, scary to claim as my own...but a true challenge to my new-found strength in my relationship with God.
I'd like to share the lyrics...
You hold my every moment
You calm my raging sea
You walk with me through fire
You heal all my disease
I trust in You
I believe you're my healer
I believe you are all I need
I believe you're my portion
I believe you're more than enough for me
Jesus you're all I need
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands
I Need You More
I need You more, more than yesterday
I need You more, more than words can say
I need You more, than ever before
I need You Lord, I need You Lord
More than the air I breathe, More than the song I sing
More than the next heartbeat, More than anything
And Lord as time goes by, I'll be by Your side
Cause I never want to go back to my old life
Let Heaven Shout
I surrender all to You my God
I will give You all I have
For You took my filthiness and made me clean
I love You Lord Your praises I will sing
Let Heaven shout for I have been redeemed.
I lay down my life, my plans, my rights
For I'm captured by Your love
And though I lose this world I will know You
Nothing compares to knowing You
These songs are a true test for me. As I listen to them, and sing them...I often don't get through more than the first line of each before turning in to a ball of tears. It is so hard to allow oneself to be so vulnerable, even to a God who knows my everything. He created me. He loves the real me, and accepts me as I am.
But He also requires my love to Him, and if I take myself out from under the umbrella of His protection...how can I expect a relationship to grow and strengthen.
It is a two-way street.
So even though our goodbyes feel like the pain will never disappear...the truth is...our goodbyes are only temporary until we gather in eternity.
For that...I will be glad.
Sending out prayers to those of you who are hurting through whatever life circumstance has come your way...and praying for God's protection and strength. Do not lose hope. Do not give up on God.
And know you have someone praying for you!