Thursday, December 11, 2008

Joy Accepted

Last Thursday night I did not sleep well. I went to bed around 1:00 a.m. and did not go to sleep till closer to 2:00 and then woke up at 7:30 and could not go back to sleep. This is a bigger deal than it might at first seem. I usually need 10 hrs of sleep and if I don't get them, then I have no energy for the next day.

I was hoping that I could survive the morning and be tired enough to take a nap, but no such luck. The entire day I had about as much energy as when you are trying to get over a cold. It was a hard day.

If it was just a cold then I probably wouldn't be writing about it, but try to imagine what it would be like, not to have a cold for an entire year, but to have a new cold every three days for a year. You're just pulling out of the old one, you're thinking about everything you want to get done now that you're getting better and WHAM! . . . you feel bad again.

After a while you buy into a couple of new fears, ones you thought you would never experience. Fears like, "If I go there I might catch a cold again; I think I'll stay home." "I would plan on that but I just don't know if I'll be feeling well enough to do it." "What if I think that I'm better and I go do too much and have to go through this all again?"

I know it sounds pitiful but this is a good sampling of what I've struggled with. Not often given in to, thank God, but definitely struggled with.

So, on Friday, I was feeling very down both physically and emotionally. I actually recovered from the loss of sleep pretty quickly; By Saturday, I was doing well again. My emotions did not bounce back as quickly. In fact they went from feeling down to feeling depressed.

I hate to use the word depressed, it sounds way too serious, but that is what I was. I was not feeling sorry for myself, I didn't have a bad attitude, my heart just seemed so heavy that there was a literal tightening in my chest.

I wondered if I should set aside time to talk to God about it, but I couldn't think of anything to talk about. I wasn't focused on something besides God. So, I waited it out. I was open to what God might be doing, but also trying not to take myself too seriously.

Sunday morning I wrote 'Peace Found', but Sunday evening I finally admitted to myself that I was depressed. Then I began to wonder, "Was I fooling myself about finding peace? Was I just trying to be spiritual to impress others?" The answers were a resounding "NO." I did have peace; I found peace and I still had peace.

I started trying to explain what was going on in my heart to a friend. As I explained it to her, it began to make more sense to me. The best way I could describe it was stored mourning. It seemed like everything emotional that had gone on in my life and in my heart the past few months had just built up. Now it was demanding attention when all the reasons to mourn appeared to be old.

I told her I wished I could just cry but I couldn't. Then, God gave me my wish. I started to laugh at something and my deep emotions caught a ride on the tail of my surface emotion. I cried, and cried, and cried.

Of course I was analyzing myself the whole time I was bawling my heart out. "Why am I crying? There is nothing to cry about. Get a grip on yourself. You're just having a pity party." But none of it was true.

The truth was there was a lot to cry about. I cried for the pain in my family. I cried for my own pain of being sick. I cried for the Christians who are getting slaughtered in India. I cried for a girl I know who is determined to try everything but God to soothe the ache in her heart. I cried because the pain of these things is real.

When I was done crying the quietness came that usually follows tears. Then I went to God, "Lord, I have peace, but I have pain, too. I have peace but I don't have joy." The thought came that I just wanted joy because it feels good. Then I thought of Nehemiah 8:10 " . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength." and Galatians 5:22 "The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy." God said that I needed joy.

"Lord, how do I get joy?"
"How did you get any of the other gifts I gave you?"
"By faith; I accepted them. Lord, I accept joy."

I didn't feel any more joyful, but I've learned not to be worried when my feelings don't line up with God's word. These past days joy has been poured upon me.

I worried momentarily that I only had joy because my circumstances were more enjoyable, but if I had faith to accept joy when I didn't feel it, why should I not have faith that I received the true gift when I do feel it? Feelings come and feelings go, but I have accepted joy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Peace Found

God spoke to me today. I didn't really like what He had to say but I always love the sound of His voice.

Someone was teaching about responding to God's call. How do we respond? Do we try to shirk it? Do we grudgingly accept it? Do we thank Him for it? Do we run from it?
So I started talking to God.

"Well, let's see. You called me to be a missionary and I thanked you for it. Man, I can't wait. You told me to buy a spinning wheel, I was a little less sure and enthusiastic but I did it and now I'm enjoying it. Can't wait to see what that's all about either."

"What about being sick?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"How are you going to respond to that calling?"

"You called me to be sick? To be lonely? To feel worthless? To not be able to serve you? To barely escape 24/7 crankiness? To be a burden on my family?"

No answer. Just that feeling that He was looking at me and we both knew an answer wasn't needed.

"You did, didn't you? Okay, I accept Your calling on my life."

It wasn't grudgingly, I didn't thank Him for it. I just accepted it. I'll probably have to accept it again tomorrow. It reminded me of the last line in this poem by Amy Carmichael.

In Acceptance Lieth Peace
He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of Manhood cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will submit;I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmuring, why will ye not cease?
"But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain.
"Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain.
For in Acceptance lieth peace."
~Amy Carmichael