Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Joy and the Wilderness Experience

So, I've been on a journey, of sorts. It's been going on a couple years now. God gave me a verse a few years ago. I didn't understand it which made it hard to receive. I committed it to memory thinking that was His point. I'm sure that was just His first point. There would be many others. He, unlike me, is just not that simple-minded. Nehemiah 8:10 "For the joy of the Lord is your strength". He gave it to me at a time in my life that I was struggling with my health. Eventually it would be given names...Surgeries, low estrogen, low thyroid, B-12 deficiencies, Iron deficiencies, and Vitamin D deficiencies. Needless to say, I was T-I-R-E-D. And as a result, everything and everybody around me struggled. I kept asking Him what it meant. I needed His strength. I meditated on the strength part because it seemed I needed a LOT of that. I couldn't get through my days without His help and strength. Thank you Lord, for being my strength. I felt happy so it must be strength. And one day He showed me...I had lost my joy. I wondered if I had ever had it. I sort of felt punched in the stomach. What happened to my joy? He eventually showed me the times in my life in which I had joy, but first He showed me the areas I had lost it and then He led me up and over the mountain, into the valley and then beside quiet waters. His first order of business was to show me how much He loved me. I thought I knew. I've known His love all my life. I was raised with it, I spoke it, I taught it to my kids. I accepted His saving grace and love as a child. But it wasn't enough for my Heavenly Father. And looking back now, I think this point had to get through. He knew I'd never be able to love others the way He wanted me to until I first loved myself. How do you love yourself that way; God's way? He has to become your filter by which you love yourself, see yourself, forgive yourself, feel worthy of that kind of love. For someone who had been abused, abandoned, left behind, neglected and forgotten as a child, really receiving that kind of love had to be the hardest, most difficult and treacherous road I've traveled yet. The first step was to really see that I didn't fully receive it. I think that was my biggest battle. Evidently, my enemies knew that and really fought hard to keep me from hearing, receiving and truly wrapping my brain around that. Letting God's love permeate every part of me somehow made me feel like I had to air all my dirty laundry and keep asking him, "what about this" and "did you forget about that" and "how could you love this"?  And then I got angry at Him. I know. I can be pretty stubborn. I just could not understand how I wasn't "getting it". What do you MEAN? So, I kept asking Him, "How do you love me? Show me plainly so I know it is You". It sort of reminds me of the children's book I used to read to my kiddos that is answered, "Let me count the ways". And that is precisely what He did. Every day for weeks He did this very thing. But I had to learn to have His ears and His eyes so I didn't miss all the huge and miraculous ways but also the mundane, everyday things I miss. But each time He showed me something, I felt overcome, overwhelmed and unworthy to receive such blessings. Oh! The stories. I learned to write them down, too. Because at the same time (yup, this has truly been an epic journey and has felt like a wonderful lifetime of experiences in just a few short years) He was showing me over and over the word "Remember" which I then asked why, how, what, when, get it. Him revealing His mysteries is no easy task...I struggle through it and go back for clarification, revision, contemplation and beat a dead horse until I KNOW I have it right. He truly does love me. :) I know for a fact He does. Nobody else would have that much patience. And He showed me in so many ways. Still does. But I had to learn to receive it, let it get into me and make me over. As I was doing "battle", I began reading through my Bible. Not just read it. But digging into it. And then something began to happen. I couldn't get enough of it. Every time I picked it up, He was speaking directly to me. And then someone would say something in passing that confirmed what I had just read. Or someone would be struggling with something that directly related to what I was reading, or I'd just have to share something to my kiddos and then they would bless my heart with their precious hearts and understanding of the Lord. Every day was like this for two solid years. I can't even began to describe what was happening and didn't dare. It wasn't until we moved into the mountains in a valley beside a bubbling stream that the Lord showed me I was in His own version of a Wilderness Experience. And there I am. To some extent, I feel like I've joined the real world again a few months ago. I finished reading through the Bible. And then I heard this quote from A.W. Tozier, "I didn't read through the Bible, it read through me". That is it in a nutshell. The Lord has restored me, renewed me, given me His joy and drawn me closer to Him all at the same time. He is just that awesome!

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