Before I get started, one disclaimer: I am not a certified counselor or professional in mental health. Just a pastor’s wife living with it.
One thing I’ve been guilty of doing, tempted TO do and observed others doing is using mental struggles as an excuse for hurting others. I don’t like that I have done this. And when I bounced my behavior off God’s word, I don’t think God likes this in me, either. In the bible, Paul wrote, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” (2 Cor. 12:7-8) From this text, I learn that Paul was tormented. Like Paul, some of us are mentally tormented. However, what I glean from the subtext, is that PAUL says HE has a thorn. He owns it. He embraces it. He gives it to God. What Paul does not say is that his “thorn” is mine, your’s, ours. It’s HIS thorn. And as the text continues, God used it to display His grace and power (2 Cor. 12:9). Sometimes, I’ve been tempted to say, “But I can’t help it. It’s just the way my mind works.” But that doesn’t line up with God’s word. The bible says that we take our thoughts captive. That means, my thoughts are not my master if Jesus is my Savior. The bible also says the greatest commandment is to, “love your neighbors and your enemies.” Love does not mean using my “thorn” to hurt others with it. I hope you know my heart: that I know this struggle is real. I live with it every day. But I also hope this honesty encourages someone today.
I started reading Stormie Omartian‘s books in 2000 when my counselor recommended “The Power of the Praying Wife.” Since then, I’ve read almost all of them: “Power of the Praying Parent,” “Lord I Want to Be Whole,” “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” “The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage,” and Raul read, “The Power of the Praying Husband.” Stormie just released yet ANOTHER book and it is GOOOOOD. It’s called, “Choosing Love.” Stormie says, “One of the many ways we can show our love to God is to deliberately choose to show love to others and in every situation…This book is about making that sometimes difficult choice and the rewards that follow.” If you had a screwed-up past like I did, you might find it hard to love like I did. I am so grateful for this book. I know this book is going to free people up to love, even though it’s seems impossible in their eyes. I’m giving away three copies of this book today. The first three who email me at heather@wondHerful.com will receive a copy. If you don’t win, but you want this book, you may get it HERE.
“He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Psalm 95:7
The summer before my freshman year in college, I literally took a job at a circus to earn money for tuition. My circus-uniform was red polyester overalls and a white, plastic safari hat. Each day, I’d go to the schedule to see where I was to report that day. Sometimes I’d be at the admission booth, sometimes the gift shop. This particular day I was scheduled to work at the petting zoo. The Shireland Circus had the most precious lamb in its petting zoo. She was little and fuzzy, and had the humblest disposition. Ever since then, I’ve wanted a pet lamb (Raul says I’ll get my lamb in heaven). Anyway…in the Psalms, David frequently talks about lambs because he was a shepherd. He knew lambs required great care because of their dependence and fragility; and that they effortlessly found themselves in trouble.
Funny…cause so do we.
We find ourselves off the pasture, in trouble, and wondering how we got there.
Thankfully, this verse doesn’t promise that we are near God’s pasture,
but that we are OF his pasture and UNDER his care.
The bible also says that when just one lamb strays, God leaves the 99 and goes after the one. Well what’s one dumb lamb out of a hundred?
EVERYTHING. NO lamb is worth leaving behind. EVERY lamb is worth going after. He has an unconditional, unrelenting concern for our lives…especially if we are in trouble. You are ONE lamb in God’s flock, and to Him, you are EVERYTHING worth going after. Today, if you find yourself far from the pasture, don’t worry about how to get back. Just ask Him, He’ll come right to where you are.
I’ve been pretty forthright about my teen/college years in that I was very far from God. I’m thankful I made it through those years, alive; more importantly, redeemed and forgiven. Five or so years ago, I was hurt by a group of good people. I’m thankful I made it through that as well. As a result of that season, depression and anxiety had set in with a vengeance. But God had me. But these aren’t the points of this post. What I want to share is what I learned from them: pain and healing are not always on the same schedule. Let me explain. It took eleven years to screw up my teen/college years, but it’s taken decades to work through the consequences of them. It had only taken a few months for that group of good people to hurt me, but it took years to heal from it. Whether we cause the pain to ourselves or the pain is inflicted by others, the days of healing isn’t always proportionate to the days of pain. Sometimes, the healing and the consequence can take longer. My point? Be patient. Don’t trust the clock, trust the Time Keeper. The bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God doesn’t promise a time frame, here. He just promises He’ll work it out. The ole adage is so true: let go and let God. I hope this encourages someone today.
The thing that breaks my heart the most is rejection because nothing cuts the heart like rejection. With everything in me, if you are feeling left out, this one’s for you…
Jesus didn’t get to be on the panel;
Jesus didn’t get to be nominated;
Jesus didn’t get to be treated as VIP;
Jesus didn’t get to be popular by the popular.
He was here to fulfill heaven’s vision and because He was faithful…
Jesus DID get to be seated at the Father’s right hand;
Jesus DID get to conquer the grave;
Jesus DID get to make the biggest kingdom-difference;
Jesus DID get to reach His eternal potential.
When you get passed by, looked over, rejected or misunderstood, remember the things that Jesus DID get to do, and let that be your fire to keep doing what you’re doing.
I was in middle school, and my mom had just dropped me off to youth group. When I walked in, I noticed a strange arrangement on the stage: basins with water and towels. As our pastor shared the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, I sat unmoved and unimpressed. When he concluded, he asked us to come forward to have our feet washed by him and his wife. So I got up and walked to the back of the sanctuary and crouched in the last pew. As the guitarist played, my peers engaged in this somber act of worship. Not me. I was too cool. ::: It’s hard to be humble when you think you offer, have or are the best. It’s hard, but it’s right and not impossible. Jesus proved that. Jesus offered us the best: eternal life, but he was humble enough to suffer for it. Jesus had the best: Heaven, but he was humble enough to come to Earth. Jesus was the best: sinless, but he was humble enough to wash the dirty feet of sinners. I’ve had many hard-to-be-humble moments. Along comes something that gives me a “one-up” on those around me. And it’s not that I take pride in it, it’s that I take pride too far. It was hard to be humble in that youth group service, but as I confess this, it’s hard to be proud. This post begs a question: if I’m gonna let pride take me to the top, am I gonna let humility bring me back down? (Proverbs 16:18) God, forgive me for ever being too proud to be humble. Your entire life was a display of humility. In your greatest display of humility, you suffered and died in real flesh, real pain for our sins. Lord, help me to be humble. Help me be more like you. Amen.
I’ve heard people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” A few years ago, when I felt like God was giving me more than I could handle, I thought I’d look for that verse. But I couldn’t find it. I found, “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear,” but that didn’t seem to infer, “more than you can handle.” I did, however, come across this verse in 1 Corinthians, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure.“ I’ve lived forty years now. I’d sum it up like this: at times, God HAS given me more than I could handle, and with Him, I handled it. The debt, the broken relationship, the fear, the rejection, the addiction, the grieving…whatever we are facing, yes, to each of us, it can feel like it is more than we can handle. That is a VALID feeling. But Jesus is a valid Savior, provider, healer and friend. And with Him, we CAN handle it. Even if you’ve let go of God, it’s OK. God can handle that too because He held on to you. He can handle all of it. Let’s let him.
How many times would you pray for something? If you are single, how many times will you pray for a spouse? If you are unemployed, how many times will you pray for a job? If you are in a fading marriage, how many times will you pray for a spark? If you are depressed, how many times will you pray for joy? If you are confused in your parenting, how many times will you pray for wisdom? Since last summer, I’ve prayed every day for something–that’s almost 365 days, so that’s almost 365 prayers. It hasn’t been answered. So at what point do I stop praying for this? At this point, I don’t. The bible doesn’t quantify prayer. It doesn’t give us a list of how many times, based on how big the need. The bible does say, “Never stop praying.” As long as I have this prayer, I will keep praying for it. Why not? I don’t believe in wishing on a star. I do believe in God, who answers prayers. So I’ll keep giving this to Him. Have you been praying a long time for something? Let’s keep praying, together.
Be not afraid, only believe Mark 5:36
When you have children, you have scary moments. They get hurt, lost, sick, bullied. Maybe your experience has been one of these. If not, whatever that scary moment was, nobody knew fear in that moment more than you. What do we do in such moments with the lives God’s entrusted to us? First, if we subscribe to God’s word, we can ‘believe.’ What we do second, third, and fourth depends on personality, past and situation. But the first thing, is to tell ourselves: “(Your name here) do not be afraid, only believe.” So what are we believing? Believing that in some moments, our child may have passed through our hands, but our child has not passed through God’s. When we feel out of control in an unpredictable moment with our child, we believe that nothing is unpredictable with God. We believe that the Almighty who created our child is almighty enough for them. I recently had a mom-fear with one of my boys. So I guess I’m preaching to the choir. But I tried to believe in God, and not believe my fears. I prayed the whole day. This took my focus off my fears, and on the One who was with my son. I hope this encourages someone today. Especially moms.
There are many comforting bible verses that help us with fear. One that’s grown on me lately is Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” This fear-verse speaks to me because of two seemingly insignificant words embedded in it: “little,” and “kingdom.” First, God knows I feel little when I am afraid or anxious. The big fear has outgrown my littleness and this should not be. God knows we feel little when we’re afraid. But God is not little. God is big. God is bigger than you, your fear, and the person or circumstance causing it. The other word I like in this verse is “kingdom.” You’ve been afraid? You feel little? Shouldn’t we be condemned for this? Shouldn’t our Dad discipline us for this lack-o-faith? Well, this verse tells me that God’s gonna GIVE me something. What?!?! Yes. And not only is He gonna give me something, He’s gonna give me something BIG…a kingdom! So if you feel afraid, and your fear is making you feel little, take heart. God’s got you, and He’s gonna GIVE you something BIG. Hang on, hold on, don’t give up. You’ve got a kingdom waiting for you!