As this week winds down towards the conclusion of our Sabbatical time, I want to share a bit more about it. It's been a very intense and important time in our lives. We've prayed for answers to certain questions that have yet to be answered, but we've been busy getting answers in other areas. I daresay it resembles housekeeping. I might know I've labored long and hard in my home cleaning out closets and drawers but to someone who is an outsider, unfamiliar with what my home looked like behind the scenes, it might well look as though I've done nothing much whatsoever. If you keep house, or help keep house, you know how very untrue that is. If you don't bother, then you have no idea, lol.
Today as I worked, I thought about what I've learned. There are truths that have come to light and maybe these are truths you have already found or you need to hear them so you can discover them for yourself.
#1 When you say to God, "I no longer want to keep You in a box, I want to know You better," He will show you how many different ways you spend your time shoving Him in a box.
Do you think that the only time you need to spend with Him is in church? Do you think the only time you need to think about Him daily is when you settle for prayers...if you remember them? Do you think God is unable to accept you in your human-ness? Do you think God can only relate to you when you're being spiritual? Do you separate the places in your life where you're willing to let Him operate? Do you think God doesn't already know all about you?
No I didn't come to all these revelations during this time, but gradually over the years. However, there are still many ways in which I personally must fight my tendency to categorize, box-up and organize God into a neat parcel. God doesn't need my awesome organization skills. He is orderly already. He can't be encompassed in a box but I can limit Him by my unwillingness to let Him work in my life. God knows I'm messy and human. He knew me before He formed me!
#2 When you press in, something gets pressed out.
I wasn't aware when I asked to know Him better just what I was opening myself up to. He had to do a bit of housekeeping Himself in me in order to allow me to come nearer. Fear of rejection? Don't need that. Fear of being unlovable? Too old to keep around. Bitterness and unforgiveness? Oooh, smelly, let's get rid of that. That heap of unidentifiable but disgusting stuff? Sweep it out the door. Anger at God? Oh He knows that already, let it go and move on!
God is the master housekeeper. He knows just how to clean and make room in your life for Him. All that space inside you isn't really enough to encompass all of Him but it sure does leave enough room for peace to settle down upon you. Peace that passes understanding.
#3 You are not obligated to make everyone who comes into your life a permanent fixture.
I had a situation come up during this time when a person I barely know called me up yet another time to 'ask a favor'. Without fail in the past few months, these calls have left me riddled with guilt and caused me to lose focus on study or prayer time. The last call I received, I went before God and asked "Why? Why does this person have to be in my life?" His reply surprised me. "She doesn't. She's been a tool to distract you from drawing nearer to me." Oh. Wow. Do you hear me?
I have a hard time with this one. I do. Be nice and share, we're told. Play nice with others, etc. etc. I'm not saying not to be nice. Some people really don't have a place in our life and they bring with them a world of confusion and turmoil and upset and demands that keep you bound and unable to focus on God. The truth is that some people are meant to pass through our lives not set up house next door. If you really want to know if someone belongs in your life, then ask God.
I was stunned to hear that this woman doesn't have a place in my life. I'm under no obligation to rescue her from her minor messes. God placed it on my heart to firmly but nicely ask her to stop calling.
Just because we're allowed to cast out one person who is an aggravation doesn't mean we can cast out ALL people who aggravate us. Which leads to another revelation.
#4 There's more to forgiveness than meets the eye.
I've cried out before about others who were in my life and causing me pain, confusion, anger and God didn't tell me they didn't belong. He showed me what I needed to learn by having them present in my life. Like how to be loving without being co-dependent in behavior that was harmful to myself and to them. Or how their pain was in the way and I needed to recognize the difference between that and thoughtlessness.
If it were up to me, there is one relationship in my life I'd end right now. I can't. It's a bloodline relationship and I must deal with this one over and over again. I don't know why this relationship has to be so terribly difficult. God has shown me that this person feeds off negative energies and the more negativity created the better this person feels. I've forgiven. And forgiven. And forgiven. Lately I've been crying out why can't I get past this when I've forgiven?
I have had to learn before I go into the presence of this person to release the relationship to God. I turn over the time I have to spend in their presence and ask God to do with it what He will. I turn over the person and tell Him that I'm releasing all my feelings to him as well. Every single time I've done this I've ENJOYED the day. Really. This person still can nut me up with their indecision and crisis that are of their own making, but I'm learning to release those, too and let Him work them out.
#5 You can know you're heartsick and not know the cause. The Great Physician will show you what is rooted in you.
This past weekend I was listening to a sermon that just hit hard. I'd never before listened to this pastor preach but boy oh boy! did I get fired up listening to his sermon. Even while the truths of what he preached were lighting fires inside I couldn't for the life of me see WHY. When he began leading into the prayer at the end of the sermon, I asked God, why did this hit me so hard, what do I need to release to You?
Buried beneath all the other things I'd kept packed down tight inside was a fear of rejection, even though I didn't have a name for it until that moment.
Just to share a bit more, the pastor's prayer was uniquely formulated. As he rightly pointed out, God knows your sins and He knows your hurts. He doesn't need you to confess them to Him. He just wants to hear you confess your sorrow that you've not trusted Him to heal them before now.
#6 When you're praying for change, God starts with you first.
I thought when I was praying for change, I was praying for our changes. Do you know, I didn't even see that for the first 8 weeks of this journey (and for the past year and half before we began this) I prayed for God to change circumstances that related directly to John? I was praying for changes in his life that I hoped would change things in my life...We just won't even start the talk with how selfish that was, lol. God helped me to see that if I wanted change I had to be changed. I.had.to.be.changed. I. Me. Didn't see that one coming!
#7 There's a good reason why God says His name is 'I AM'.
I AM is an active present tense. Do you understand that? God is here and now and actively present. He hasn't just shown up in the past and is thinking of showing up in the future. He is here, right now. When John is gone each day I anticipate his arrival. I don't have to anticipate God's arrival. I just have to acknowledge His presence.
#8 To live a God centered life, be aware of Him.
I've always thought I had to set aside a special time each day in my life to talk with God. A designated, dedicated time. We do not have to move to a mountain top and give up relationship with humans and fast and pray for years.
For the last few years I've listened to some missionaries and evangelists who spend hours alone with God on a daily basis, soak in His presence. I always wondered who was handling the details of their day to day lives while they did this. I'm not saying they don't. I just haven't been called to the life they have.
I've learned that God will take moments of time all throughout my day . He's present when I bag up the trash and when I vacuum. He's there when I sit on the porch in the morning and study my Bible. He's with me when I get in the car to go run errands. He's also there when I'm in the middle of my busyness and when I'm involved with others and when I'm asleep.
All we have to do is be aware that He is already here. We can talk to Him 24/7 without fail.
These are just a few of the things I've learned over the past ten weeks. Not all by any means. I'm still sorting out my thoughts and understandings. It's been so rewarding and such a wonderful time overall.