It’s a Spirit Thing

I wanted to tell this story because it’s an amazing God story and it might help someone else dig deeper into the burdens they’re carrying, but it’s also difficult to put into words. So while you read this post, just keep the words to the Newsboys song “Spirit Thing” in mind: “It’s just a Spirit thing. It’s just a holy nudge… it’s just a little hard to explain.”

I love Holy nudges and am so grateful when I receive them. I want to shout it from the rooftops, but they are also often very personal. The nudges I receive are communication from God that not everyone will understand (because the communication is about my own heart and life), but I’m going to try to put this one into words.

God gave me a vision one day of shadows of people hanging off me, pulling me, dragging me back. It wasn’t the actual people hanging off me, but their shadows, their darkness, their burdens. I’ve shared before my gift of sensitivity and feeling other people’s emotions. I no longer believe it’s a curse to feel other people’s emotions, but a gift. However, it’s not a gift meant for me to carry alone. I know how hard it is for me to disconnect after I’ve sat with someone in their pain. Instead of feeling with and for them and moving forward with life, I take it a step further and pick up their burden, trying to carry it for them. I add burden after burden and it gets heavier and harder and I start walking with a limp, my own heart and body breaking down under the weight. Even when the person starts feeling better, I still can’t put their burden down. It never leaves me. I carry their shadows even when they no longer do so.

I’ve known this about myself for a long time and have done quite a bit of praying and working through it. I keep feeling led back into a helping profession but I have to learn how to let go somehow so that I don’t continue to carry on my back every client I’ve ever had. It would destroy me. Please don’t hear me say there’s something wrong with feeling for people… quite the opposite actually. However, my job has to be bringing those people before the throne of God, guiding them into the arms of Jesus rather than keeping them in mine. It’s His job to carry them through their difficulties while I walk beside them toward healing. I’ve tried to be the savior more times than I’d like to admit but it’s my job to trust people to the true Savior.

I thought I had prayed enough prayers against my emotional destruction and savior complex before. I’ve brought people in emotional turmoil to Jesus many times. I thought I had gotten past this but it turns out I hadn’t quite fully released control. God showed me that day that I still had a cord attached between me and every single person I’ve ever felt deeply for and with whom I’ve felt pain. I was completely unaware of how much baggage I was still carrying that wasn’t even mine.

After God opened my eyes to the shadows dragging from me, I spent a long time going through each person, praying for them, telling God I trust Him with them, bringing them to His throne, and visualizing breaking the cords and purposely handing them to God. He showed me that it’s not my job to pull them along through life, but to let Him have the reins instead. He said His yoke is easy. How hard I have made it instead!

After releasing each person in this way, I felt so physically light it was almost a shock to my body. It was nearly dizzying. It wasn’t a relief yet because I immediately started to panic, nearly full-on panic attack panic. So I asked God what was happening to me and it was suddenly so clear. In that moment, I felt more alone than I ever remember feeling before. I had no one with me to back me up, and no one for me to drag along. I felt indescribably vulnerable. It was just me and only me. I wish I could fully convey the sense of smallness I felt in those moments. I felt like an ant… a speck of dust to be trampled on. I was tempted to feel utterly insignificant and terrified, a tiny bit of scum in the presence of a huge and holy God.

But in His most precious way, the Holy Spirit rose up in me, squashing those lies that I am a tiny pile of nothing. No! I am God’s child. He chose me. He LOVES even me. How amazing and nearly mind-boggling that He loves someone so small and weak. In my deepest vulnerability, God showed me His indescribably precious love. I was completely overwhelmed. He didn’t love me because I’m doing what I thought was helping others by dragging them along with me. He loves ME. Period. Oh, how can this be true? But, it is!

This was such a priceless healing from the Lord and insight into the burdens He so desperately wants to carry for me. He assuaged my fears about daily entering into the pain of others. Now, instead of helping others because I think it makes me look better in God’s eyes (I had no idea I was thinking this way), I can help others from the depths of love He already has for JUST ME. Dragging people along revealed two things to me: Sometimes it was just another way I was trying to earn the love that God has already given me. Other times it was a clear picture of my lack of trust in God with the lives of people I love. God gifted me with a powerful Spirit encounter that opened my eyes. Helping people find healing should be a privilege, not a burden. God’s burden is light… and my heart and body thank Him for that!

Like what you see? Share it!

Hope Is Alive

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”- 1 Peter 1:3-5

Hope seems to be the theme of our days lately, from CR to the sermon series, to my own wrestling. So here are some more thoughts I jotted down as they came to me the other night:

I know what it is to look forward to heaven. I can’t wait to see Jesus. I’m struck by the term “living hope” in the above passage. Looking forward to heaven is a great thing but I also know how good I am at looking forward to heaven as an escape. I’m especially skilled at longing for heaven while at the same time despairing of earth. This doesn’t feel like living hope to me.

I know that THE Living Hope is my Savior who lives and moves and in whom I live and move. I wonder if living hope is an expectancy to experience eternity one day but ALSO an expectancy to experience a reflection of eternity here on earth through a vibrant relationship with Christ. Keyword: vibrant. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Vibrant, living, ALIVE hope is not just a survival, a trying-to-hang-on-until-Jesus-comes kind of life. I’ve spent countless days doing just that. It doesn’t feel like living. Honestly, it feels a little bit like dying.

Living hope must mean an eternal focus moment by moment, a constant searching for God in all things and a willing, excited obedience to His lead. It’s being saturated with His love and abundance and squeezing it out for His glory. This is vibrant. This is thrilling. This just may be the abundance Jesus was talking about.

I read something recently that I can’t stop thinking about. It was a prayer, “Help me to extract the precious from the difficult.” Life feels like it will always be difficult and I think I need to just let go and stop waiting to get better before I start living. I’ve come to this realization before but I don’t think I understood exactly how to do that. I’ve had a very hard week, weeks. I don’t know, I’ve lost count. Yesterday my blood pressure was lower than it was when I passed out during the test that diagnosed me with POTS. I haven’t had the courage to check it today. I gotta tell ya, when you don’t have enough blood pumping through your veins, it’s difficult to feel like living. It’s easier to pray for death because it feels a lot closer than life.

BUT, I am still here to fulfill a purpose for the glory of God and, if He wants me to do that from my bed, so be it. I will be sick for His glory. I will lie there and extract the precious from the difficult.

Yesterday’s precious: Lying in bed talking to God, being aware of His presence and being gifted with the beautiful song of a bird outside the window. Having the hymn “Sweet Beulah Land” in my head, constantly shifting my focus to eternity and giving me the opportunity to worship while God sustained me. My husband cooking a dinner he knew I needed (very salty to help with the blood pressure) but couldn’t make myself. Practicing a skill that I may one day be able to use to help others.

Some days a living hope may mean following God’s lead outside of this house to serve others. Other days it may mean following God’s lead to do the difficult work of worshiping from the bed, praying for everyone that comes to mind, and thanking Him for the precious. Who am I to question which kind of obedience and glory God wants from me? Both are God-honoring tasks. Both grow my faith. Both squeeze the received love of God out of me for His glory. Both are alive.

May He bring more physical life to my veins with each passing day… but EVEN IF He does not, hope… and Hope… is alive… always.

Like what you see? Share it!

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hope is about as comfy to me as joy used to be. I’ve not been a fan of either of those words but that’s just because I didn’t fully understand them. I’m still not sure I do but I’m working through it. Apparently I’ve decided to work through it publicly since I’ve written numerous posts on the subject. I’ve warmed up to joy and am slowly coming around to hope. The veil is lifting and I think I’m finally starting to get it.

Our Celebrate Recovery topic for the last two weeks has been hope. During the three years I’ve participated, I’ve not been a fan of this lesson. I felt truly hopeless for a lot of years. Life had no meaning to me. But now I’m working on putting my hope where it belongs, not in health, mental health, finances, a feeling of belonging, or any of the other things I want, but in Jesus. There’s a difference between hope and want. I want all of those things, but if I put my hope in them they will very likely disappoint. They have already disappointed immeasurably.

So when I answered a question about hope last night, it was not meant to sound negative, though it was taken that way. In fact, it was probably the most positive thing I personally could have said because it captured a letting go that has needed to happen in me for a long time. Maybe my delivery still sounded a bit like Eeyore so I’m going to work on that, but I said something along the lines of, “My hope is in God. I’ve lost hope in everything else.” Does that sound negative or positive to you? Until we fully understand true hope, giving up hope in everything else is always going to sound, and feel, negative. Raising my hand because I’ve definitely been in the negative camp for a long time. Thanks be to God, I think I’m finally starting to see the light.

My comment about hope wasn’t meant to be negative. I’ve put my hope in things other than God enough times to know that hoping in anything other than Him sets us up for disappointment nearly every single time. Life is so very hard. Why put my hope in something so unstable as anything in this life when I can solely hope in the One who will never disappoint. My only Solid Ground. 

I’ve not mastered this in the least. I’ve refused to get out of bed after the 12809475th (okay, so I exaggerate a little) time a doctor gave me the “I’d like to help you get better but I’m out of options” look. For so long I have hoped in health, in a “someday,” when that day may never come on this earth. So I understand the hopelessness of losing hope in this life. But I desperately want to discover the abundant hope that comes with placing my hope only in God. Does it sound like I’m talking in circles? I’m not. I’m talking about two different kinds of hope. Temporary, earthly hope, and lasting, eternal hope.

Just so we’re clear, it’s still going to hurt. Putting our hope firmly in God doesn’t make us immune to feeling pain when we don’t get what we want. When we hope for things on this earth and they don’t happen, what do we do with that disappointment? We fall to our knees and pour out the hurt on the solid Foundation that’s already there. Our world doesn’t rock and throw us off balance because our hope IS a Rock. It doesn’t move. I think there’s a big difference in hoping FOR and hoping IN. We hope IN God and, while we can hope FOR other things, we are not eternally disappointed when we don’t get those things.

That has been a huge misunderstanding in me for so many years and I think I’m finally starting to get it. Disappointment may actually be the most hopeful thing we receive because we get to run to the Hope that never changes or disappoints.

I’m not sure I can explain this very well because it’s one of those things that falls into the category of – until you get it, you’re not going to get it. Until it clicks and the light finally turns on, it’s very hard to understand this concept. Trust me, I know. I’ve rolled my eyes at plenty of ministers and words on a page talking about hope. I’ve said things like, “What? God can’t disappoint me? Ummm… yes, He can. He has. How dare you say He can’t?” Now I understand that He hasn’t. If we’re disappointed in God, that means our hope was in something He never promised to give. We projected our own desires onto Him and then got mad when He didn’t give us what we wanted. So can I hope treatment for my illness will work? I think so. As long as my hope is not IN the treatment, but FOR the treatment. If I hope the treatment works and get mad at God when it doesn’t, that shows my hope was in the treatment, not in Him. 

I think I’m finally understanding this hope thing… and that has given me so much hope! Oh, the irony. Life can be completely and totally falling apart. But when my hope is in God, that hope doesn’t leave me, change, or disappoint me. I’m having one of those heart-on-fire moments just writing this. I feel like the light finally turned on for me in this area… as soon as I let it go. Isn’t that the way it usually works with God? Give up all you thought you had in an area (control) and receive far more than you had in the first place from the abundance of God.

I recently prayed a prayer of submission to the hard things in life. “God, I’m tired of fighting. If You want to use my difficulties for Your glory and plan, I’m in. Your will be done.” It wasn’t an easy prayer to pray but as soon as I did, I didn’t feel the fear or disappointment I expected. I felt relief, a lessening of the constant anxiety I’ve had from fighting against the hard things. I no longer have to wear myself out striving for the things I want but may never get. Instead of, “Please, God, no. Please don’t make me do this anymore.”, I can start praying things like, “How can I do this hard thing for You today?”, “How can I be sick today for Your glory?” or, “What do you want to do in me through this?” Those are much more hopeful prayers than “Please, God, I’m begging You to take this away.” I’m not saying those begging prayers are bad or that I’ll stop praying them but I feel a lot less angst praying the submission prayers. How ironic it is that when I finally gave up hope… Hope rushed in. 

When we put our hope in God, it gives us courage to hope for other things because if we don’t receive those things, we still have the very best thing. I quote Susie Larson a lot but here’s another, “If you are in Christ Jesus, He is in you, and that means there’s no future part of your story that God is not a part of. And when you embrace that truth, you can also look back on your past hurts and know that they didn’t get the best of you. You’re still standing and God is in the process of redeeming your story.”

Therein lies our hope. There is nothing that happens to us apart from God. God is working to redeem our story. He is working to take all of the bad things in our lives and somehow, some glorious way, turn them into good. When you feel hopeless, its so hard to believe this truth. I know, and my heart aches for you if you’re still in that place. But it IS the truth. Speak it to yourself until you believe it. I have come through the deep darkness enough to see some redemption already happening in my story and it is MIRACULOUS. It is worth the near Hell I’ve gone through and it’ll be worth any more hellish things to come. I want more redemption… so I will trust Him. I will do my best to hope only in Him. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get the things I want in this life. I have the only hope that matters… the only One that will never disappoint.

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5). I have hated this verse. I have wished it was left out of the Bible or thought, “surely it couldn’t actually mean what it says. Maybe it was translated wrong.” Hope HAD disappointed me, broken my heart, kicked me while I was already down. But that’s because my hope was in the wrong things. Now I know that this verse absolutely means what it says. True hope will never disappoint. True hope is eternal. This is not an easy thing to grasp and I hope I haven’t made it sound like I’ve mastered it. Far from it. But the more I understand the Source of true hope, the more peace floods over me. I pray for a greater understanding of this hope with each passing day.

Like what you see? Share it!

God Fights Through Worship

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

I hope that verse is the theme of our days right now. I’ve thought about it several times as I’ve asked God for wisdom, guidance, and discernment. I’m struck by king Jehoshaphat’s submission and faith throughout 2 Chronicles 20. When a powerful army approached, he declared a fast, reviewed the promise of the Lord, declared his people’s powerlessness without God, and he worshiped. He was so convinced of the promise that God would conquer the vast army that was coming against his people that he sent worshipers into the battle before his own army. As they praised the Lord, God Himself fought the battle for them. As Jehoshaphat’s men looked over the desert and the dust cleared, they saw that God had mightily won the battle. None of Jehoshaphat’s people had to fight except through worship.

I think worship gives clarity to our vision. When the battle kicks up dust in our minds, thoughts swirl and troubles come at us from outside and in, worship brings us back to one focus: God. It does wonders to clear away the distractions and worries. It reminds us that God is far more powerful than anything else that could come against us. Therefore, worship makes us stronger and more peaceful at the same time.

I tend to feel like I can do the things I’m afraid of when I worship. My vision clears of all the fears when I focus on the One who makes them disappear. Yes, I’m aware of all the unintentional rhymes in that statement but I’m just going to keep them there for effect! I have a supernatural confidence while I praise God that I do not have at other times. Knowing this, I’m not sure why worship is not always my first action.

Distraction has been plaguing me a bit lately. I just noticed that distraction is dis-traction and dis-action. Distraction makes us lose our traction, our footing, our steady connection to the Father. And it causes us to stumble passively rather than taking action and regaining focus through worship. While I do spend time with God each day, it hasn’t always been of good quality as of late. My husband working from home has changed my routine a bit and I’m certainly not blaming him. I could go to a different part of the house if I needed to. It’s just been a bit of a learning curve for both of us and I haven’t made the effort to change my habits. Without quality time with God, I’ve grown a bit restless and extremely distracted. My mind has been running a mile a minute with swirling thought upon thought. I finally decided to do something about it… imagine that! I decided to throw off distraction and fight for my mind and peace in the best way I knew how: through worship. I got alone with God in our beautiful window room one evening (I will never stop thanking God for the blessing of that room) and I prayed a prayer of submission. I confessed my sins, thanked God for His forgiveness, and I prayed about all the things that were on my heart. It was cloudy and dark outside and in. It took quite a few times of re-focusing through my distracted mind for things to start to clear. I began to listen to worship music and sing along with the songs. I remembered my God and fixed my heart on Him. It was a powerful time of praise and reconnection. It wasn’t long before God became my singular focus. As if to drive home the point that worship clears away the distractions, the cloudy sky cleared more and more as I worshiped. I began to see the stars and I smiled at God’s beautiful faithfulness. As the dust of the battle cleared, I saw that God had fought for me and my mind was His once again.

I can’t tell you how many times over the last few years God has fought for me like this while I praised. I have found tremendous healing through this practice. It’s not easy to make yourself praise Him when your world feels like it’s falling apart. But, oh, how powerful it is when you do! I find that when I don’t have the words to pray, I can sing and the Holy Spirit helps me pray through song. I have worshiped through anger, pain, and tears. Each time God has fought for me in mighty ways. The melody doesn’t sound pretty to us at all but I think it sounds beautiful to the ears of God when we choose to worship Him when it feels like our hearts are breaking. When we throw off our dis-traction and choose to plant our feet in the only One who can keep us steady, when we throw off the dis-action and choose the action of worship, God fights the battles for us, battles we could never win without Him. Why do we try harder to fight without Him than we do to worship while He fights for us?

Next time your heart feels unsteady or your thoughts swirl, choose worship. It may feel like the hardest thing you have ever done, but it will be worth it to have God fight your battle. When the dust of your thoughts finally clear while you praise the One who keeps you steady, you will see His mighty victory. He has already won! Praise God!

Here are some glorious songs based on 2 Chronicles 20 to get you started:

I Raise A Hallelujah (Bethel Music) I have so loved hearing my sister-in-law and niece sing this song via Facebook each day. They remind us daily to let God fight for us during this time.

My Weapon (Natalie Grant) Throughout the social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Natalie Grant and her husband have been blessing us with a song each evening. I had never heard this song before and when I heard her sing it, I could do nothing but fall to my knees and weep. Worship is SO powerful! Let it move you while God moves FOR you! Battles will be won in Jesus’ name!

Like what you see? Share it!