Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].
1 Peter 4:8 AMP
Furthermore, the purpose in sharing is not to cast blame, but to acknowledge how our circumstances, feelings, emotions and our own heart can, whether legitimate or not in what it is feeling and experiencing, lead us astray when we take our eyes off Jesus.
Where to begin? This road has been long and for very long periods of time very dark. The struggles I have faced have wounded my heart and have left over me a consuming feeling of being overwhelmed. Ironically, the same struggles that have brought me much pain, disappointment and difficulty have also served as a catalyst to the most beautiful, meaningful and most important relationship of my life – my relationship with Jesus. I have failed him more times than I want to remember, tripped and fallen more times than I can count and rebelled more times than I am willing to admit. Yet he still loves me and cares for me. To him I am still his treasured possession…his beloved.
This truth that is now cemented in my heart was not always a reality to me. By the grace of God I have always had some kind of relationship with him. Because of his unfailing love, his hand was upon my life even when he was not a priority to me. I can see how, unbeknownst to me, he ordered my steps to ensure that I would ultimately find him. Sadly, I did not follow the Lord wholeheartedly during my youth; this is a mistake, that if given an opportunity to relive that part of my life, I would not repeat. It wasn’t until I was about 23 years old that I began to cultivate a real and genuine relationship with My God, Lord and Savior. Within weeks of my renewed zeal and passion for God, on my way to a special church service, I was involved in a three car accident. I struggled for almost two years with severe and incapacitating back pain, the effects of which I still feel today. However, that tragedy led to the beginning of a true and real relationship with God. Unable to work because of the pain I had plenty of time. My first order of business was a formal complaint.
“Why would you allow this in my life now? I just committed myself to you…Why are you doing this?” I argued.
Thankfully he chose to answer me with his sweet, small and still voice instead of a lightning bolt. It was the fist time I heard his voice. I was lying on a bed with a TENS unit on my back and heating pads waiting for my physical therapy to begin. I will never forget that day, the tears, the shock and the joy I felt are unforgettable. But what he spoke was unexpected. He said:
“You ask me to mold you and break you and now you are complaining about it”
Wow! He had allowed that situation in my life in answer to my prayer. Sometimes we don’t actually realize what we are asking God for, but because he is good and the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, he knows. Having recommitted my life to him meant he had to do some work in me and being home afforded me the opportunity required to seek him without distractions. Over the next eight years I had moments of steady growth as well as tremendous growth spurts. It was years of good getting better and better...life was a real blessing. Then The Lord in his wisdom thought it was time to begin pruning the vine and begin what has been about an eight year saga. Looking back now, though I have hated many of the circumstances I have had to endure, what the Lord is allowing me to reap is proving SO WORTH IT!!!!!! See he promises that:
They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.
Psalm 126:5 AMP
How funny, I am literally singing - not necessarily a good thing. LOL!!!!
It wasn’t till a little over a year ago that things got out of control for me and landed me in the darkest pit of the darkest valley I have ever traveled. Like I said before, I was growing in the Lord. Things weren’t always easy and the challenges and difficulties were painful, but he was so real. I heard his voice for the first time and learned to listen and respond to it, I developed a great hunger for bible study and devotion, his manifest presence* was more and more evident with each passing day, he started using me in ways I never imagined, he spoke to me through dreams and even vision type pictures and I was involved in several ministries at my church. There were times where the trials in my life felt like they were more than I could bear but the beauty and intimacy of our relationship got me through any challenge. It was as if he were physically there all the time. He was truly my everything and my best friend. He consumed my thoughts, I found myself talking to him constantly or talking about him incessantly, or I would not stop worshipping. The days that took me to very painful valleys ended with him wrapping me in his arms and comforting me in a way I had never known before and that gave me strength for a new day. Then God did the unimaginable.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that something like this would be possible for a child of God to experience. He removed his manifest presence from me. I could no longer feel him with me. I could not feel his love consuming me or comforting me – I felt alone. At first, I thought I had sinned since his word teaches that sin separates us from him. I continually plead with him asking him to show me my sin. He graciously answered that I had not sinned. So what could it be? I still heard his voice, I knew when he was speaking to me and asking me to do something, but where was he? Why was he so far away? Why would he go when I was facing some of the most difficult challenges of my life that I can’t handle without him? There were areas in my life that were falling apart, relationships had deteriorated, individuals who should have mentored and encouraged me tore me to pieces and the promises I had been hoping for fizzled away. Why was this happening?
For me, what proved unbearable was his absence. I expected difficulty in life; he guaranteed his followers would not escape it. But with that he also promised that he would never leave us or forsake us. The absence of his manifest presence, in my opinion, meant he had left me. I allowed my heart to deceive me, something I knew yet forgot. God tells us in his word:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?
Jeremiah 17:9 AMP
See the problem was not what I was feeling. In some cases the feelings were legitimate and a correct response to the circumstances I faced, the issue was my reaction at those moments. I would have days where I trusted and hoped but more often than not I mistrusted and doubted. That triggered the downward spiral that led me into that dreadful pit I could not get myself out of.
What will you do? Will you trust in God? Will you confess to him the doubt, fears and emotions your heart is battling? He already knows them, but he still wants you to tell him. Will you repeat my mistake or will you like the boy’s father in Mark 9:14-29 and cry out to God:
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:24 NLT
At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!
*Manifest Presence- a physical awareness that God is with you. You can discern his presence with your natural senses
Where Are You?
I Don't Want to Give Up