Thursday, June 2, 2011

Joy in the Evening, too!

First of all, thanks to so many of you who have reached out and sent me words of encouragement!  It means so much to know that I am being lifted up in prayer.  I know especially for those of you who know me well, it might be a bit distressing to read some of what I’m writing.  I don't want to upset any of you, but it really is a critical help in my processing all that is happening.   
Beyond that rather self-serving reason, I also pray reading my struggles will be an encouragement to you.  Not because I have it all together, but because I don’t, and yet, God is still at work in me and through me.  I want you to see if He is able to use me - broken, messed up, insecure, sometimes downright pitiful, me - He can and will meet you right where you are, and use you, too.
This morning we talked about Who We Are Under Stress.  As will come as no surprise, it was an intense way to spend 3 ½ hours!  And yet, because of the battle I waged last night, I was able to cope.  If I hadn’t had that time of my pouring out my heart, and of Jesus pouring in His love and assurance, I don’t know if I could have got through it. 
Without going into it all, each one of us was pushed to confront ourselves, and our fears, feelings and reactions, in a situation completely out of our control. 
For me, it was not all easy, but again, I had the strength to handle it.  Not in myself, but because I felt the Spirit with me.  He was with me last night as I cried out.  He joined His groans with my sobs, and lifted them up in intercession to God.  I was able to endure the strain and stress today because I had already walked through a valley. 
In a way, I felt there was nothing that was going to be thrown at me today I hadn’t faced down last night.  Because we had spent so much intense time together, I sensed Jesus close to me the whole time.  There was a peace which only came through throwing all my tears and anguish down at His feet. 
So, although the morning was not much fun, I did learn a few more things about myself.  The happy thing is, some of what I learned was positive!  I learned that under stress I am able to get past my fears and find a way to function.  I learned that I can step outside of my comfort zone to help reassure others. 
And, I learned that even though I have stress-filled times, when I cry out to God, He will meet me in them.  More than that, He just may use them to equip me for something coming up, which I would not be able to handle without that struggle.
The stresses and strains are unavoidable, but in the power of the Holy Spirit not only can I manage them, but through them I really can learn more about myself.  Even more importantly, in them I can learn more about Jesus. 
In them, perhaps one day, I will truly be able to say that I not only am enduring the strife, but am rejoicing in it because in it I am learning more about our all-loving and all-powerful God.
Tomorrow we’re going to spend the entire day talking about Embracing Rest, Sabbath-Keeping and Silence and Solitude.  Can I just tell you, I am so excited for tomorrow! 
Until then, I pray you, too, will sense God with you in whatever struggles and valleys you may be experiencing.  As un-fun as they are, I hope the reminder that God can use even our ickiest stuff to deepen our understanding of Him will give you courage and yes, joy!    

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