Thursday morning I got the following email from my dear Oregonian friend (author of Can't Help Myself blog), which got me started putting together some of the pieces of what I couldn't figure out. After reading it I was finally able to confess my sin to God and to my children, and a weight was lifted.
For those of you who are sometimes disillusioned, here is her encouragement. It is long, but worth the read...
My dear, dear friend. Big hug to you right now! To say "I've been there," would be as silly an understatement as saying that "I've been to church." I still do go there--regularly, if not religiously. Sometimes I feel as though I live there. I so despise myself in those times--I feel as though all the growth and "ah-ha!" moments in the past 5 years have been a lie. Back to square one--round and around she goes. . .
However, to quote a fascinating woman come across my path of late--"But, God!...... I love those two words....as in 'They meant it for evil,
BUT GOD used it for good.' Those two words make all the difference."
You slam the door at your kids.
The enemy celebrates.
BUT GOD. . .
allows you another chance to remind your kids
that you are walking along this path of life with them,
and sometimes need their prayers and forgiveness too.
You say hurtful words to your kids.
The enemy says, "Now that's a gal I can use!"
You say, "What good am I to God?"
BUT GOD. . .
says, "Go show your young ones the plank
I helped you remove from your eye so that
they will know it is compassion and humility that makes you
dig for the specks in theirs."
You grumble about things that you thought precious just yesterday.
The enemy stands back to watch as your feet and legs
are immobilized by the hot, desert sand of discontent.
You let guilt cause you to sit down and wallow in it.
BUT GOD. . .
uses your little sojourn back to the desert
to remind you of His constant refreshing presence,
and that your daily bread. . .everything you have,
everything you really need, comes from Him.
You think horrible hopeless thoughts about surviving this day.
The enemy paints your future a dull, primer gray.
You watch and wearily swipe a little gray on it yourself.
BUT GOD. . .
takes advantage of your attention
and the freshly primed canvas to dab on a bright
little speck which grows and multiplies and explodes
way beyond all boundaries into an amazing picture
of His glory and greatness.
And your life is a part of it!
You get so tired and soul-weary that all you can
do is lay down and say, "Ok, Lord.
You're just gonna have to carry me.
I just can't do it, and I'm tired of trying and failing."
The enemy screams in frustration.
Slowly, you begin to feel a little lighter as that rock
in your gut seems to vaporize.
AND GOD. . .
sets on your shoulders a new yoke--
the lightest one you have ever carried.
You look and find that it is only because He
is in the other side of it--bearing the full weight.
My beloved friend and sister, you ask where God is in these
times. He's waiting for you to stop and humble yourself so that He can
lift you up. Every single time, I am (very slowly) discovering that it
comes back to surrender. Setting down your sword.
You ask where the "way out" is. I think sometimes. . .maybe. . . it would be more accurate to seek the way through. You're right. God rarely swoops down and dumps a magical basket of spiritual fruit on our heads. He generally doesn't even remove or neutralize the temptation. (Then it wouldn't be temptation, would it?) The temptation remains, but He waits for us to stop and look to Christ. The
hard part for me is the stopping. On days like you described, I feel pressured to keep going and keep running, getting things done and throwing a prayer at Him on my way past. "Somebody stop me!"
But He calls us to "Be still and know that He is God." He calls us to come to Him
if we are weary and heavy laden. I have a friend who treats such situations as "emergencies." She figures that her kids need her to be able to pray effectively for them at all times, so when she is doing them no good, and her sinful attitude interferes with even being able to pray for them, she stops homeschooling, skips swimming lessons, whatever she needs to do and makes the time to stop and come humbly before the Lord, and then before her kids to pray together. I have begun to do that at times too, and not only does it radically change my whole attitude, but it has dramatically impressed my kids with the importance of humble submission to God and being right with each other! We have gone so far as to climb back into bed--all together--after lunch, and restarting our day with a "Good morning," and a stretch, and a prayer--"Thank you, Lord for this day! Show us how to bless each other and honor you!" You can't imagine the effect--on all of us!
My dear sister, thank you for your honesty in your blog. I imagine by the
time you get this e-mail, the troubled day may have passed. But they do come again. I don't have all the answers. I don't even always do what I have just told you. I am thick skulled and stiff necked.
I wait until the situation is desperate.
The enemy does his thing.
I play along.
But God. . .
always makes a way through to greater maturity
and the spiritual fruit tree which lies
just on the other side of this trial.
There is no end to the wonders He can accomplish. . .no end to the
good He can work out of all things when we surrender our sin and failure to
Him, the great Redeemer.