Studying Art. I don’t like Art. Never have. At least that’s what I thought. Really, I don’t like certain kinds of Art. I don’t like nudes. I don’t like most modern art. I don’t like violent art. I don’t like most abstract pieces. What I do like is that which lifts the heart and mind up to the Father. I like that which creates a picture of who He is. That which causes me to stop and think … “He was in that moment” or “He was in that painting” or that snapshot or what ever “that” is… I like those things that lift my mind to Him.
Lately it has been a challenge to be lifted. I mean…. I just don’t always “feel” it. Job didn’t always “feel” it either. He had to remind himself constantly that it was ok if He didn’t “feel” it. And God knew the whole time …..
I wonder sometimes….did the enemy go before God again and say… ” I want that one. You know she will deny you if you just put the pressure on. You know she will. She’s weak. Hit her kids. Hit her marriage. Hit the church she worships in. Hit her health. Hit the relationships she has had. Hit it all. She will deny you.”
And then….when all that has been hit… when I lift my hands to the Father…tears streaming down my face…and say…” I serve you still” …… the enemy goes again before the Father and says….
“Hit her joy. Take her joy. Don’t let her feel You there. You know she will leave if all she senses is empty darkness. Take it. Watch her crumble.”
And when it happens. When all that’s left is empty darkness…. I lift my hands….tears streaming down my face…and say….”I need You. I don’t feel you. I don’t know where You are….but I need You and I love You. I won’t let go. Hold on to me…please don’t let go of me….”
So the enemy goes before the Father and says….
“Make her wait. Let her see her kids leaving You…her bills unpaid…every friend denying her….let her feel shame…let her feel rejected and beat…let her feel starved and empty and lonely…let her feel the crushing blows I know how to offer….just give me a little time with her…she’ll reject You”
And the blows come…and the shame follows…and the loneliness is crippling….and the worry demands to be acknowledged…
With tears streaming and face lifted to the Father I say…. ” I have nothing left. Just these gray dots and this empty heart. No words. No feeling. No dignity. If I was You I wouldn’t want me. No one in the church wants me now. Do You? …. I still believe…but the passion is gone. I’m hangin on…but by a thread….will You take me? ”
I wonder sometimes if that’s not how it went. If that wasn’t the story. I wonder if that wasn’t the story for so many of us. You see…I listen to people cry over losses all the time. I hear the proud. I hear the broken. I hear the unforgiving. I hear the unforgiven. I know that the pain we all feel comes from a broken and sin stained world and only one is responsible for that. The enemy of our souls… the one who attempts to break us…to pull us away from the Father. I hear preachers pound shame into us and see pharisees throw stones at us…and I know the signature of the one who is the enemy of our future…the accuser. I know that signature well. I bet you do too.
I wish I could tell you it’s going to go away. I wish I could. All I can really tell you is hang on. Set the boundaries you need to. It’s ok. Surround yourself with those who are on this road too. Find those who understand what it means to live in the byways and stay close. When the enemy hits you are gonna need each other. If you just can’t find those folks yet, don’t give up. Jesus will not forsake you. He is your very best friend and He will be there on the journey.
I’m so grateful that feeling is not believing. I’m so grateful that refiner’s fires are a temporary thing. I’m so grateful that I can know truth without feeling it. I’m so grateful.
As I prayed this morning I thought about the crown of thorns. I thought about the Cross and how Jesus went obediently to that Cross even when He clearly would rather have avoided it. It was a selfless act for you and for me. I’m so grateful. I can’t live enough days well to repay Him….but I can say “I praise You” … In the dark when I can’t see… “I praise You” …. in the light when sunshine feels cold…”I praise You” … in days of wonder and days of worry…” I praise You” …. in joyful moments as well as sorrowful… “I praise You”…
I can choose to give up desires that are only earthly…. I can stop comparing and stop complaining and stop lusting after material things. I can just say…. “I praise You. I want to do with my life what You want.” And I can mean it. You can too. It’s a choice. It’s something that requires counting the cost. I’ve been counting it alot lately. But as I consider the homeless, the orphan, the hurt and emotionally bleeding…that cost looks alot smaller than I first imagined. And then there’s eternity….
“Father, we don’t even know the many ways You lift and protect us in a day’s time. We are so blind to Your loving care. Please forgive us. Forgive me. Help us let go of the material and to focus on walking in Your will. Even if it hurts. Help us to do what matters.”