Darkness falls

There are times when all I can see is the pointless struggles of this world.  I wonder to myself,  why do I even exist? Why did I bring my poor children into this mess we call life? What is the purpose when all is so dark and destructive?

I see so many leading the lives of a drone each day, not a glimmer of light in their lives and they are not even aware that is missing. 

Blinders are on and I am one of them.

Layers of this false life get peeled back and I wish for them to be replaced.  Fear creeps in,  uncertainty,  and pain of reality.

I often wish I could curl up and make it all go away,  live the false life full of materialism and ignorance. I sometimes long for the dark,  the light can show overwhelming pain and destruction.

I struggle and the darkness senses it. It tries to close in tighter,  tries to weaken Your hooks on my life, tries to pull me from Your warm embrace. Sometimes that seems easier. I try to press through it but that is impossible when I go it alone.

Thank you Lord for never letting me go,  for reminding me of Your love,  Your light and Your goodness. Without you I would easily fall into that darkness and become numb again. This world would have it’s way with me and I would be lost. You are my Shepard and you come for me when I am lost,  this I can always count on. Even when I myself don’t even know that I am lost.

You truly love me more than I could ever fathom and for this I am thankful. The storms will always be there,  the darkness will always be around and waiting to consume,  but I have hope and life in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. NOTHING can ever change that.

Surrender

Surrender all to me, God says.

Yes God, I surrender all.

You must accept submission, God says.

Yes God, I sub…subm…..submit all to you….well I am trying to….control? who needs control? ppffttt, not me…..sigh

Submit to your husband, God says.

Ugh. Submit to my what? Really? I mean, it’s not the fact that God is telling me to submit to my husband that bothers me so much, it’s that He is telling me to submit to ANYONE other than Himself that bothers me. Let’s be honest here, no one wants to submit to another person, do they? Not in this society.

I mean, I have been on my own since I was 15, making my own decisions, living my life the way I wanted to. I was responsible for everything and decided that I would never leave my life in another person’s hands. Keeps from being let down, ya know? Now here is God, bringing the various verses to the life that remind me to surrender, submit and to listen more……speak less….but I have so much to say!

All these things initially caused me to panic, push back and ignore for the most part. Yeah, yeah, I will be a woman of few-er words. Ok, sure, I will respect authority and not speak ill of the jerks above me, above my boss, in our government…lol…does that work?

I try to reason with God, “I try to submit to my husband, I TRY so hard to have him lead the family but he just isn’t, so I WILL!” Did I really? Nope, not one bit.

I did this back and forth thing in my heart with God. I would try to reason with Him, show Him that it no longer applied in 2013, remind Him that He made me to be a natural leader…..no such luck.

I finally started seeing that I was doing something wrong, I had to be. My husband was obviously struggling with some things that were between him and God but I could also see that I was doing something to cause him to feel like less of a person at times. So I prayed. I looked to my Pastor for advice, both biblically and as a man/husband…sometimes we need a translator! Prayed some more. Looked to some ladies for perspective and guidance. My prayers were always along the lines of “Lord, please help me to be a better wife, work through me and help me build my husband up” I know I cannot do these things on my own, I need Your Spirit.

Finally, in the ladies Bible study I go to, we hit the “Wives in the same way, submit to your own husbands….” in 1 Peter 3

Funny that through this exercise of digging into 1 Peter together has really taken the sting out of this for me. When I came to reading it, writing it and picking it apart, it wasn’t so bad. I was able to apply all we learned from the first 2 chapters of the book of Peter and see that submitting is not necessarily a bad thing. Choosing to submit as God calls us to, can be rewarding if we allow it to be. On my own I can to see that if I choose to submit in a way that is a little less verbal than normal, well then I can give my husband the room he needs to grow spiritually. That my need to knit pick and complain could actually hinder my husband’s spiritual growth. Wow. Can my need to hold on hinder growth? I think it can.

I have known all along that I have a wonderful husband and that I can trust in him. This has never been a problem. I have seen how God has been working in our lives, how He has been shaping us. I see where we were, where we are and get glimpses of where we may be going. I can see how God brought us together to even each other out and to smooth out each other’s rough edges. I see the insecurities shrinking as our bond grows. It’s been a wonderfully, beautiful and frustrating process. When we let go and let God, it is easiest.

While the ladies were discussing this passage, a woman told a story about a time she reacted to a horrible day differently than she might have normally. Basically she voiced her frustrations and went to bed. She could have reacted angrily at the things she didn’t have time to do for herself and she could have demanded that her husband help her with these things. I know that I might have. I very well could have said to my hubby “I can’t get these things done, I need you to do it for me!” Seems reasonable. This particular story ends differently though, this woman did not demand anything from her husband and only told him about the things she wished she completed for the following day and went to sleep. Upon waking up in the morning she saw that her hubby stepped up and took care of those things for her. It was a wonderful surprise to wake up to. She stated how differently it would have looked if she had demanded that he do these things for her. There could have been turmoil, demands and frustration.

It hit me! As wives, we need to give our husbands the space they need to love us the way we need to be loved.

Does that make sense?

When I choose to respect my husband in the way he needs to be respected, it gives him the space he needs in order to love me the way I need to be loved.

When I go down a list of things my husband needs to do for me, the house or the kids, he feels like I am dictating and is not feeling respected. When I take the lead and “get things done the way they need to be done”, I am failing to give my husband the space he needs to lead our family in the way God wants him to lead. I am also creating a lot of unnecessary stress for myself.

Space. All to often I fill that space he needs with words, anxieties, demands. He needs space. God works in those spaces.

I am far from being the perfect wife but I am learning to submit in the fashion that God has asked me to. I am stepping back and getting out of the driver’s seat. There will be no disappointments, no failures and no disasters. When I put my faith in my husband, I am putting my faith in the work God is doing in Him. The work He is doing in me.

He may make mistakes, don’t I make them often enough?? He may make the wrong decisions on some things. Who doesn’t? Quite frankly, I don’t want to be the one making all the decisions. I am seeing that I was believing the lie that I was “doing it because it needed to be done and if I didn’t do it, well it wouldn’t get done.” How vain.

I spent a good portion of my life being the one in the driver seat, then I found Jesus and have learned that He drives much better than I. Now it is time for me to give that seat up to my husband and to not be a backseat driver either! I don’t always know best. As a matter of fact, I usually don’t know best. Grace is needed. Lots and lots of Grace.

Now, none of this means I am going to be a lesser person, I will not be loosing my identity. I will not be deferring to my husband when asked a question. I think that we picture submission being this weird place of slavery and defeat. I am here to say that this is not the case. I am beginning to see this. I am seeing that it’s a place of beauty and relief. A place where seeds can be planted and growth can take place. A place of strength and a foundation for peace.

God has done such amazing things in my life and I cannot just pick and choose which parts of His Word I will follow. He has my best interest at heart, He wants the best for us all. When I give up the anxieties that surround certain ideas, I come into such freedom! Who knew?!? I have heard women declare this all before, I have heard their testimonies and wished I could find a way to do the same.

My prayer is being answered. As usual, I am looking back at the past months and see the path that God has brought me along so that I could get to a place where I understand this better. He needed me to understand other things before I could wrap my mind around this and put it into action.

Ever learning, step by step He shows me the way to a brighter life, an easier way to live. As I learn these lessons and continue on my walk I find that I have more time and energy for God’s work. Life doesn’t get easier per se, just lighter. Jesus truly does lessen the load if you allow Him to. Storms still come, but God has been tearing down the weaker parts of me and rebuilding them so that they are strong enough to endure. God provides a shelter that cannot be explained until you experience it for yourself.

I can’t wait to see where He brings me!

Endurance

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Funny, I have just finished listening to an audio book and, subsequently, started a new one. The former ended in reminding us readers that we are to carry our cross DAILY and to endure the sufferings for they bring God glory if we allow it. The latter began on this same subject. Suffering, enduring and living in Christ’s name. Allowing all we go through to bring Him glory.

I found my thoughts drifting in two directions….first I was thinking, do I really suffer for Christ? I am a spoiled American girl. Sure, I have struggled in various ways, I have endured spiritual, physical and emotional pain. I have wondered how to make ends meet. Do these count? How am I bringing Him glory in these things?

My second train of thought was that no matter what country we live in, not matter how our culture is, Jesus tells us to live differently. That definitely applies to me. I often think how difficult it is for believers in other parts of this vast world. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my tongue cut out of my mouth for speaking God’s truth. This is not something that should make me discount my life. I am called to live differently too. I am called to go against the grain and love, share and support when society tells me to hate, hoard and abandon. I am to make a difference in the place God has set me in.

Lastly, I endured a weekend that was quite difficult in both an emotional and a spiritual way. At the end of Sunday night I was asking Jesus to just take me away. I no longer wanted to endure the trial I was in. I wanted Him to take it away. Why? Why do I have to be in this? That was my question.

Today, a friend told me to read a section of a book she reads each morning and I realized that I am suffering for Christ. I am enduring difficult times and different attacks for His glory. I have seen how He has been working and will continue to do so if I can keep my side of the bargain, look to Him for peace and give Him the glory.

The section read:

BE PREPARED TO SUFFER FOR ME, in my Name. All suffering has meaning in MY kingdom. Pain and problems are opportunities to demonstrate your trust in Me. Bearing your circumstances bravely – even thanking Me for them- is one of the highest forms of praise. This sacrifice of thanksgiving rings golden-toned bells of Joy throughout heavenly realms. On earth also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tidings in ever-widening circles…

So today I see that this is what He means for me to endure and I am NOT to compare it to what others are enduring. I am important. I play a vital role in God’s kingdom and am making a difference in ways I am meant to. I am loved and happily endure the stressors of this life for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will not be discouraged today. I will continue to live in His light and accept the peace only He can provide.

I choose to die to self and live for you Jesus.

In His grace and glory I wish these things for you as well.

Hi

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My name is Melissa, and I am a sinner.

I have been in the deepest, darkest, filthiest places in this life.

I have felt pain, inflicted pain, reveled in pain. At times I have even longed for the pain, as it was better than not feeling at all.

Life has never been easy and I am so far from perfect, I once thought myself unlovable.

As I dwelled in the gutter of life, finding comfort in my sin, I found a better way in a place I never would have expected.

Jesus.

Jesus came along side me and showed me love despite it all. He sat down beside me in that gutter and held out His hand.

Ever so gently and full of love, Jesus met me right where I was. He sat there in that gutter until I was ready to turn to Him. Protecting me, calling to me.

He does not sit in a far off place. You do not need to travel far to find salvation, He is always near.

Many times I turned away from Him and crawled back into that dark, familiar place, away from the light. It hurt to see myself, to be so exposed.

How could He love me? ME!?

How could He still want to save me after REALLY seeing me?

Ever so patient.
Ever so kind.

My Lord and Savior has cleansed my soul.

Only by His wounds am I healed. I am forgiven. Something I truly do not deserve and never will.

I am nothing. I belong in the gutter but Jesus loves me anyway.

If He can love a wretched woman like me and use me for His Glory, then how more can He use you?

WWJD

Prior to becoming a believer in Christ, I would scoff at the whole WWJD movement. Now, I don’t wear the bracelets or have the bumped sticker, but I do get the idea behind it now. What would Jesus do? I ask myself that all the time. Probably not often enough, but pretty often.

Recently I was asked a favor from someone who has, in the past, always made things difficult for me. As they were asking, all I could do was think about all the wrongs they’ve done. I had enough restraint to not flat-out refuse, I was able to ask to get back to them later that day.

My initial response was, “how dare they ask from me after all they’ve done to hurt me.”

I couldn’t fathom why this person would even be in the place they claim to be in. I was making assumptions about how they live in a way that they should not have to worry about certain things.

I had three really long lists formed in my mind. A list of ways they wronged me, ways I have compromised to be fair and a list of what they should be doing the rectify their situation.

These were my responses in my flesh. But what would Jesus do? What is the Spirit leading me to do?

I thought about the story of the adulterer from John 8:4-11, my Pastor spoke of it this past Sunday.

4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.

Jesus does not ask me to pass judgment or to condemn others. I am certainly not able to cast the first stone, that’s for sure.

So, in Jesus’ wisdom, I chose to calm down and ask for specifics from this person reaching out to me. I began to think about how difficult it must have been for them to come to me at all. I pushed through the flesh and chose to be in the Spirit.

This person was not asking a lot, they’re not looking to take advantage and I am not enabling them by any means. We are blessed with other things going in currently and that gives us the ability to help. So I choose to help. I choose to do what Jesus would do.

This is huge in my spiritual growth. Not all that long ago I would have been surprised and satisfied with my not reacting in anger. That would have been a huge accomplishment. Christ has brought me to a different place and I want to give Him the glory He deserves for the place He has brought a wretch like me.

We are to love. We are to help and support where and when we can. This includes those that I may not particularly want to help. I am never to lose sight of another’s humanity.

In Christ’s love I shares these things.