Friends, I come to you honestly; bearing my heart. This current season of my life has been one where the Lord has taken me to the very end of myself. It has been a season where He has proven Himself to be all I will ever need and shown me how I will never stop needing Him. I am being called to share what the Lord has been teaching me because I know I am not alone in this and I know the breath of life that is poured out when we bear one another's burdens. As some of you know, since last April I had been struggling with depression. It has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and has served as a catalyst for growth and depth in the Lord. Since November, I have been walking victorious out of that miry pit but since being delivered I have been asked this question on a second my second basis: How much do you love me? Through unemployment, house-less-ness( I have been staying with dear friends till I find a place), and some other deep trials, He is testing and trying my heart. I pray He never stops. I am utterly broken and utterly joyful. He has taught me the joy found in suffering and it is this that I desire to share with you. I pray you hear my heart but more importantly, I pray you hear the Lord's.
:: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart O God, thou wilt not despise.:: Psalm 51:7 :: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs the kingdom of God:: Matt 5:3 What are you pursuing? Might I be honest? Might I be impassioned for one moment friends and say that I am burdened with how few men and women I see suffering for the will of the Lord? Who are we pursuing yet weary?( Judges 8:4) I see far more people with closed fists rather than open hands; whose first reaction is not to submit their first loves to the fire but to wrap them in blankets and hold them close to their hearts. I know, I was one of them. No. Sisters, Brothers. You are acting in fear. You are believing the lie that the Lord will give you a stone when you ask for bread. He is in love with you. If you being parents know how to give good things for your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give you?( Matt 7) Please, be quick to surrender. I say this not because of some legalistic desire to self-torture myself but because of my longing for others to know how much one receives when things are relinquished. I mourn that others will never know the all sufficiency found in Jesus, of the joy we find when we climb that mountain and offer up our Isaac. I am walking through a valley of suffering, surrender, relinquishment and I have never felt more joy, satisfaction and peace in my life. :: I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.:: e.elliot
To suffer.This practice does not come easy to me. I am, at my core, a rebellious child flailing against the arms of my Father. Wanting my way, claiming my own knowledge as best and my desires as satisying. I believe I know better than God on a regular basis.
::Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same purpose, because He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. So as to live the rest of time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God...:: 1 Peter 4:1-2What was Jesus' suffering? I had often heard that we were to partake in the suffering of the Lord. I had not quite understood that in it's entirety and to be sure, there is so much more weight to that then I can comprehend now, but for this moment in my life, where the tinge of suffering is near, I realize that Christ's suffering was more than the physical torture of crucifixion. The depth of His suffering was revealed there in the Garden, where He bowed his head and prayed " My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Matt 26: 39. His suffering was submission to the will of God despite his own desires. This has been my current portion: to submit to the will of God despite my cries that this cup be passed from me. He has left me waiting for a job, waiting for a relationship, waiting for a house...waiting. This is has been my cup of suffering. How much do you love me? He asks. Nichole, do you love like me? Laying down your life for others? Are you willing to walk in submission because of the JOY that is set before you? Is your first thought, " Father, let your will be done?" Yes, Lord. I want you. More and more the Lord is revealing to me that He is not about making things easy . He is about His power, His might, His weight being proclaimed through making a rebellious sinner like myself like Him: humble, submitted, believing, patient, willing. I think of Nehemiah's prayer in the face of a huge, approaching army. He prayed not that the struggle be taken away, not that the army would evaporate "But now, oh God, strengthen my hands."( Neh 6:9b) Is that my rection to trial and tribulation? Do I not rail against it more often than not, lamenting my condition and pleading that the Lord remove the hardship? In truth, many of us, like myself until recently, know not the joy of surrender. Many of us have never allowed ourselves to relinquish what God truly requires: our best. How long I have operated under the lie that sacrifice means giving that which is bad for me. That surrender looks like giving up my desires for sugar, my addiction to facebook, my vanity...no. I have skimmed the surface of surrender. I have settled for superficial faith and shallow ground. No. Surrender is giving up Isaac. It is living with open hands. It looks like tears, and anguish and sorrow but it's aroma is that of joy and peace, perseverance and character.
::The fair petals must fall, and for no visible reason. No one seems enriched by the stripping. And the first step into the realm of giving is like surrender- not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning:that is not worthy of it's name for "no poluted thing can be offered.":: Lillias TrotterI mourn for the fact that so many brothers and sisters do not smell of death( 2nd Cor 2:17-18) but of tight-fisted fear.
::For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the Glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being revealed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of Glory far beyond comparison.":: 2nd Cor 4:15-17Yet we contend with our flesh. Pursuing the will of God is no easy thing. It looks not like blithe delight but of brokenness. it smells of death. The fact is my flesh is not soft and malleable but icy, stiff and hard as rock. It responds only to fire and crushing. This is that state of my soul and so He breaks it and takes it through fire.