what prayer changes

it takes so much energy to genuinely love and to care for someone. it takes such a painful level of self-sacrifice to place them ahead of you; to grieve when they’re grieving, to laugh when they’re laughing. it takes a great deal of effort to let go, to allow Him to work in their hearts. it takes such an attitude of humility. you go into it thinking you know what is best, thinking you know how it’s going to work out…and then you find He has a different way to go about it entirely. but still, it’s something to still be able to thank Him, to see what He sees, to learn His ways and see what it means to let my will disappear into His, i wouldn’t trade that in for anything…

never have i had such a strong connection with so many, and it all being unbeknownst to them. as i pray for them, as i cry for them, as i enter His gates on their behalf, as i carry this honor i have been ignorant of for too long, it’s like i am viewing them from a whole different lens. it has replaced the rose-colored glass in some cases, and has given me something so much more real…and raw.

i’m seeing that the only thing my prayers have the power to change is me. my heart. my attitude. my perspective.  it has drawn me closer to Him, and has allowed me to experience a whole new level in the relationships i have with others – and share with Him.

at the same time, the spiritual battles have become so much harder. the emotional toll it has taken has been substantial. it’s hard to talk about and explain…i don’t know if it even makes sense. or just appears that i’m trying to be “super-spiritual.”  in truth, the realities i have to face have made me cynical. the desire to just turn cold so as to protect myself from any more pain becomes stronger and stronger. i have become so analytical about my motives. and trying to make sure i “put in” as much as i “put out” so i’m not leading myself into a another breakdown continues to be an issue.

i’m so tired of the platitudes. i’m tired of all the christianese bull.  i’m tired of questioning the sincerity of others and dealing with disappointment. this has been something alive…something i needed to feel. even though it pierces, it’s the realest thing i’ve had gone on in my life a while. all the experiences that have tied into it have hashed me out and refined me in ways i had never sought or knew. and while it’s hard and hurts and rips away pieces of my heart, at least i know i can trust it. it’s challenging me. it’s bringing me face to face with the ugly parts of who i am and making me want to change.

i have no idea what i’ll end up with in the end. but at least i know i’m doing something right for a change.

sara

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when bad things happen

i heard someone say recently that it wasn’t “God’s will” for a bad thing to happen.

the statement made me want to jump out of my skin.

it was a tragic thing that had happened. a lot of things that happen on this earth are. i suppose we like to think God had nothing to do with it. He’s a nice God, after all. He’s only in control of all the so-called “good” things that happen. the rest is the devil’s fault. that nasty devil. blame him for death and rape and disease and violence and all those terrible things we hear about on the news. all the “bad,” as we would define it.

but if that were true, i’d want nothing to do with a God like that.

i’ve been abused: physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually. i’ve been betrayed and abandoned. i’ve struggled through recovery. i’ve been depressed and near suicidal. all bad things. bad things that were a part of God’s will.

as if God didn’t know what was going to happen in Eden all those years ago. yet, somehow, this world still happened.

and all that followed. cain killed abel. job lost his children. a flood wiped most of humanity. pharaoh threw babies in a river. ruth’s husband died. david had sex with bathsheba. israel faced generations of slavery and hardship. mary got pregnant outside of marriage. Jesus was tormented and nailed to a cross. stephan was stoned. paul spent many unjust years in prison. christians for generations after have been viciously persecuted and murdered.

these are all what we would define as “bad” things, but when you step back, you see the bigger picture. God’s design. a God who can make beauty come from the ashes…despite sin and its consequences. we can’t explain most of what happens here, but we somehow feel like we have to defend God, a God we hardly understand.

my heart hurts for all the pain and tragedy and injustice that happens here. i cry for people that are suffering, real and even imagined. i don’t deny that there is evil in this world – my life is evidence of that. i don’t know much, but i know God is God. He is sovereign. i can rest on that, in good and bad.

sara

what is “bad“?

how i was disillusioned by “christian” books

i read the books all other christians were reading.

you know the ones.

on finding your purpose. achieving your dreams. claiming your blessings. how to figure out God’s will for your life (as if it’s some sort of mystery). i didn’t realize it then, but i see now how it disillusioned me. it was all wrong. dangerous, even. i overlooked so many things. i sought after what i wanted rather than what i needed. i often crashed from disappointment. i had an unhealthy fear that i wouldn’t be able to “figure out” what God wanted to do in my life.

but all those ideas dissolved in the light of His pure, trustworthy truth.

what is my purpose?

to glorify God (1 corinthians 6:20, 10:31). He is my creator, i am His creation (revelation 4:11). Christ is my Savior, and through Him, i am able to have a relationship with God. a relationship. something that requires time, commitment and effort. like getting to know anyone else, you must spend time with them. i get to know Him by listening (through His word), and talking to Him (by prayer). and what He reveals, i live. and as i’ve gotten to know Him, i can’t help but fall in love with who He is, and truly enjoy Him.

how?

by obedience to His word. i show God my love for Him through obedience (1 john 2:3-6). too often did i overlook opportunities i had right in front of me because i was so focused on my s0-called “purpose.” like there was something better and “more important.”  but really, all i need to do is glorify God right where i am. trust Him, where He has placed me, and let Christ live through me. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” colossians 3:17, nasb

rather than searching for that purpose or fulfilling that dream or desire, His word showed me that anything and everything can give Him glory…which makes every breath mean something. every moment is precious. you know that line in the serenity prayer? it helped to guide me in the right direction:

living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time…

God didn’t make His will a mystery to me. His will for my life is right here in front of me, in His word. He laid out His heart for all mankind to know, and we must make the effort to study it. the Spirit will teach me “all things” (john 14:26). i don’t need to rely on anything else but Him to teach me, and to trust Him enough to live my life as Christ lived His. and that’s it. Christ is my example. His was the life of perfect obedience. i am to be a reflection of Him in all i do. as my life has become lost in His, i’ve found that there’s really no questions left to ask…He is all i need.

“He can crumple me or exalt me, He can do whatever He chooses.” -Oswald Chambers

i’ve  had to learn how to trust Him. how to take what i saw on the mountain and carry it to the valley. how to let go. how to love.  and what it means to have His desires become my own. it has released me from fear. it has released me from disappointment. it has released me from worry.

i am free. i am defined by Him. and there is no greater pleasure…

sara