Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Anxiety in My Ear and Jesus in the Corner

I was cleaning my room today, and I started to feel really guilty because Jesus is in the corner. Wait what? Yeah that's what I said... Jesus is in the corner, and I'm the one who left him there.

For Christmas several years ago, my dad bought me a beautiful Thomas Kincaide painting of Jesus. And a few years ago when we did some remodeling around the house, we had to take him down off the wall. When the renovations were going on, I sent him to my friend's house. I wrapped him up in bubble tape and she took him home and put him up in her closet. She kept him there for me for a couple of weeks.

The pressure of having Jesus in your closet is great though, and it got to be too much for her and she brought him back, and that's when I stuck him in the corner. He's just been sitting there pitifully ever since.

Now, obviously I am being a little bit tongue in cheek about my Kincaide, but I sincerely do have guilt. I have guilt because I know my husband has bugged me a thousand times about not only hanging Jesus back up, but all our family pictures and the like as well. And I have guilt because my dad gave me this really special gift, and I haven't given in the honor and care that it's due.

As I sat on my bed this afternoon looking at a bubble wrapped portrait of Jesus, the irony wasn't lost on me. I've been watching a lot of folks lately cover up the real Jesus and stick Him in the proverbial corner of their lives.

We've been confronted with a pretty dire situation here on the home front. It's in the economic realm and it's outside my actual jurisdiction in the decision making arena, and truth be told my faith based opinion input isn't always super welcome. Some folks think I am a little TOO "faith-based" (if that's possible) so the discussions can get a little sticky, even though the results will have a HUGE impact on me and mine.

But see, here's the bottom line in all of life for me, "Jesus is big enough." I would never really stick him in a closet or a corner in my life, because I believe to the depth of my being, that He can handle our situation, and no matter what happens, He'll take care of us.

I told my husband today, "Worst case scenario, we lose everyTHING we have, our jobs, our home, our belongings, everyTHING but the 5 of us still have each other and still have the Lord, then it'll be ok." Now honestly, my hubby agrees with me in theory, but the practical scares him more, "the house" is what rattles his nerves. Now mind you, these threats are still just vain imaginations at this point, but we are sincerely standing close enough to the edge of that cliff, we can get a picture of that valley down below. But for me. I look down and think, "But the Lord." I see Him as the giant safety net between us and that fall. Or worst case scenario, how bad can that valley be if Jesus' is down there with me in it?

Anxiety keeps knocking at my door. Yesterday morning it snuck in before I was fully awake, and it was right there sitting on my chest when I woke to face the day. I got up and whacked that little sucker with my Bible, and then the Lord and I beat him into submission and together we stuck him in the corner where he actually does belong. But he kept mocking me, so the Lord spent more time smacking him in the head with the Word of God and eventually he got out of the house.

Problem is, I got away from home and other people kept sneaking him into the room. He'd come over and try to whisper his words of fear in my ear, and I'd grab my Bible and whack him again. It was an ongoing battle throughout the day. But I kept focusing the truth and smacking him right between the eyes. I reminded him of the truth in the book and when my aim was a little off, I'd take a little of my own personal experience and slap him around with that too. I'd remind him about how faithful the Lord had always been before. I reminded him the much bigger battles God had won in my life, much bigger than dollar signs.

This morning I was relieved that when I woke up, that little Anxiety wasn't there and waiting. I've been reading my bible every day and I've been meditating on its truth. I've been reminding myself of Who God is and what He's done in my life, and that scares the heck out of Anxiety. As my eyes opened, I begin to pray and I began to praise. It kept Anxiety at bay. He's never really far away, but The Word of Truth and the Truth of my testimony, make two very nice earplugs that drown old Anxiety's voice right out. I remembered my earplugs last night and I remembered them this morning.

As I read my bible this morning and journaled my prayers to the Lord, I proclaimed the Word of truth about who the Lord says He is, and about what He can and wants to do (use me, equip me, grow me, bless me.) At the core of who I am, I am very black and white. A "say what you mean, mean what you say" kind of gal. And you know, I believe to the depth of my being, that's an attribute I inherited from my Daddy, my heavenly Daddy that is. The Bible says it this way:

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

And see here's the thing, the Lord says He takes care of His kids. Over and over again, He promises it. It may not mean we live in a lap of luxury or to the lifestyle we would choose, but He promises He'll never leave us forsake us, He even promises you'll never find our kids begging bread. (Psalm 37) He promises to meet our needs, He promises wisdom to those who ask, and to be found by those who seek Him. He promises, and He says He doesn't break His promises, and in 18 years of following Him, I have yet see otherwise in my life.

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking. I had this moment of deep revelation, "Faith ALWAYS PRECEDES the miracles." Peter had to get out of the boat before he walked on the water, Noah had to get in the boat before he'd ever seen it rain. The man with the mangled hand had to reach out in faith to see his healing. The Centurion came before His servant was healed, the woman touched His hem in faith before the bleeding stopped. Always, always, always, FAITH FIRST, then the miracle.

It occurred to me, if we get the answer first and then we believe, that isn't faith, that's just plain old observation. That's not credited to anyone. It's our expectation, our confidence in Him that moves Jesus to move on our behalf.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

I got to work this afternoon and the voices of Anxiety circled. I thought to myself, there goes Jesus again, sent to the corner. What must He think over there? As He listens to the words of fear being thrown about? Fears spoken without hope, doubts grow, Anxiety puffs himself up as he works the room. The bubble wrap goes round and round, and poor Jesus must be thinking? Have I ever failed you? Haven't I proven myself faithful?

Well, I tell you what, I'm pulling that bubble wrap off and putting the Lord back on the throne in my life. I BELIEVE Him! He said He'd take care of me, He promised to be with me. Life IS hard, but God IS GOOD! He is true to His word, the Keeper of His promises, and I'm not going to listen anymore to the Anxiety monster and all his little minions while they try to tear down the truth. I'm not exchanging the Truth for their lies. I'm not doing it. No matter what the source of your anxiety or fear, God can and wants to work on your behalf!

No matter how hard things get, God is on my side.

The LORD is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:6

Whatever I face, however bad it gets, God is bigger.

The thing is, if Jesus is going to be in a corner, it's not going to be a manner of putting Him there in some powerless position, in a time-out on my faith. But rather the only corner Jesus is in, is the corner that says He's for me, and He's equipping me, ministering to me and on my team. That's the ONLY corner where Jesus belongs, and that's the corner He's in because He wants to be, not because anyone ever had any power to stick him there, and he's sure as shootin' not wrapped in bubble wrap.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Open Doors

I have asked the Lord to open doors in my life for the bigger ministry that I feel called to in my spirit. When I last blogged, I asked the question about a new opportunity, "Is It a Door?" And I prayed if it was, that He would open it for me.

When I applied for the position of a writer on Examiner.com, I asked the Lord to open the door if it was His will. When I sent the application in, I was told it would take a couple weeks to hear back, but it actually only took a few days. The reply was an enthusiastic welcome into the new opportunity, it felt like the door was swung wide, and whoever was minding the door swept with a big smile and a "come on in."

Now this is just a little gig, and you almost can't even call it a paid gig, because although I can earn a little cash if folks take the time to stop by my page, it isn't going to be enough to take the family out to dinner in an actual restaurant, much less help with the mortgage, or pay for Jake's college. And yet, I believe it is a door the Lord led me to, and a door that He actually swung open.

Interestingly in the article I wrote to apply for the opportunity, I talked about how ministry is divided by one. It is my firm belief that the Lord goes to great extents to reach out and minister to the individual. He cares about the one, so if this opportunity gives me an avenue to speak the word of God into a life that I might not ever cross paths with in any other way, then that's His purpose for the door, and it is a noble purpose indeed.

I also know the Lord is beyond efficient, and as much as He will hopefully use me in this opportunity, because I believe anywhere God places one of His children, He places them there to establish His kingdom; it is also just as likely (almost guaranteed) that He has placed me there for my benefit in some manner as well. Whether it's to teach me something, or train me in some manner, I trust He has a purpose. But what I am most excited about is the possibility of partnering with Him in some small way in this tiny little page on a very big website. Because I know if He wants to use, not only can He, but He will.

As much as I have aspirations and desires, the truth be told, the last thing I know I heard the Lord say to me was "Write. In a exceptionally painful time, in a long and painful season, one with isolation, confusion and discouragement, I cried out to the Lord seeking direction and wisdom and His very clear response to me was that I should write. It's how this blog was birthed.

I am still asking the Lord for more doors. Whether the next door is beyond this one that I am in the process of entering or whether I will come back out of the "room" this door leads to and find another, will remain to be seen. I've been reading this terrific book called "Anonymous: Jesus' Hidden Years... and Yours," that a dear friend recommended to me and it's spoken to me in many ways. The bottom line of it for me (so far) has become that I want to spend less time worrying about the doors of destination and concentrate on the journey in the hall, and more importantly, on the Company I'm keeping there. I want to be in the moment of now fully, not constantly looking down the "hall" for another door. I am realizing that the fellowship in the hall, and the lessons to be learned there have great value.

I'm excited about new opportunities, and I am hopeful for more, but I have a new found peace about the process. I know the Lord is working on my behalf, and I know His plans for me are good. Most of all, I know He loves me, and He is with me and will never leave me. And as long as that is true, there is no place He might lead me that I'm not willing to go.

My hope is renewed, not because of the door, but because of the One who led me there.