Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Free

 After what has been a spiritually frustrating day, I decided to release some of the heaviness into a blog entry.  I couldn't.  The words weren't there.  I stared hopelessly at the screen waiting for something to come.  It never did.  Reflecting back over my own set of frustrations throughout the day, I felt tears begin to wet my face.  Finally, I asked God to bring out in me what He wanted to say, and within minutes I started to write.  This wasn't the first time I found myself staring blankly at the monitor while I waited for something from God to rise within my spirit.  It has happened before, but until today I hadn't made the connection of why -As it turns out, I can't write unless I'm free and I'm not free unless I'm not wrapped up in me.
Only hours earlier I found myself spiritually and mentally battling a situation that I know God has directly placed me in.  Up until yesterday, my husband and I decided that "I've been put in these circumstances to be of help."  Sam and I agreed that "God is giving me and us the opportunity to be of service to Him by helping here and how awesome that He's promoting me just a little more!"  I wasn't particularly fond of the assignment, but I knew that I wanted to serve God and do His will rather than my own, so I somewhat happily complied.  Well, as it turns out God isn't just using me to help in the situation; He is using the situation to help me grow in Him.  Have you ever experienced growing pains? Well, I love it when I move on to a new level with God, but during the places where I know He's helping me rise to new levels in my walk with Him, I feel every bit of the pain that comes from how I imagine a growing pain looks.  I see a human body being pulled on from wrists stretched over the head down to toes being pulled towards the floor.  It's painful and I think I just found a new stretch mark. 

Well, even though I'm not in some machine that pulls at my extremities, growing with God is pretty painful sometimes.  However, I've been down in enough valleys with Him to know that when I'm through them the reward on top of the mountain is the absolute sweetest gift I've ever been given.  We have to be willing to walk through the valleys one step at a time.  I used to try and run through them but by the time I got to the mountain top I was out of breath and fell down...usually face first.  Gracious as He is, God picked me up, dusted me off, and had me start again.  Well, over the last couple of months He has seemed to be letting me rest in a joyous euphoria on top of my last mountain.  However, I'm now back in a small valley with Him but what I know now that I didn't before is that God uses the valleys to teach us some of the most awesome things about life, ourselves, others around us, and most importantly - Him.  The part where so many of us stop moving forward though is when it gets painful.  We start feeling the pains and decide to just pitch a tent down in the valley.  "Ahh...this isn't so bad," we say to ourselves.  So we stop moving forward and simply get comfortable in a place at which we were never meant to stay.  We see the mountain top in the distance, but think "Nah, that's too far and too hard of a journey.  I mean, c'mon, would you just look at all those rocks and boulders on the way up!  Forget that...I'll just stay here and watch the stars.  It'll be safer this way."  I'm here to tell you that the pain you feel while you're in that hard place is only felt because you're growing! I've pitched a tent before and decided to stay.  It was a miserable existence.  Don't camp out in the valley, keep moving! 

"Well, Heather - that sounds great but you aren't exactly down in my valley looking up at the mountain I'm seeing," you might think.  You're right.  I'm not.  I only have my own valleys from which I can knowledgeably speak.  However, I've learned a thing or two about walking with God while down in them, and one thing in particular is this - the valley isn't all painful.  It can get exciting when we're able to recognize that it's God changing us into who we're meant to be.  When we start feeling pain - the knowledge that it's a growing pain starts to get almost exciting.  "How is God going to work in me this time!" I've wondered in amazement.  For instance, I have been in moderate spiritual pain over the situation with which I'm currently faced, but I'm also pretty excited to see where God takes me from here.  I've been through this with Him more than once now and I know He's working the entire situation out for my good (Romans 8:28) and that I will come out of it closer to Him.  And hey - who knows, I may even get to help a person or two along the way!

So, how can we make the valley less painful?  By being free.  "Free from what," you ask?  Free from ourselves and from focusing on the pain of what we're experiencing.  In other words, in the situation I shared, I was wrapped up in me earlier, so I wasn't free to do anything but focus on me.  I finally asked God to show me what He was thinking and here we are! Unwrap your thoughts from around yourself and you'll be free from focusing on the pain you're feeling.  Wrap your focus on God and what He's doing.  Is it easy? No, but walking with God isn't supposed to be easy.  Jesus promised us that we would have trials and tribulations in this world but He has overcome them all (John 16:33) so doesn't it make more sense to focus on Him and what He has already done rather than ourselves and what we have or have not done?  

Direct your thoughts to Him and you'll become unwrapped in you! May you all be free in your own times of misplaced focus!


Image taken from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1556

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