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With “life stuff” swirling around me, I’m in danger of being sucked down into the vortex.I’m on the Pastoral Search Team with weekly meetings & lots of responsibility, weekly Bible Study, full-time job that sometimes stretches to 9-10 hours, a high school senior in the midst of college applications, school activities, a college senior studying in Istanbul, Turkey, worry about jobs, money, and the future. The daily life of family and friends who need me. Trying to listen to God, trying to be what He wants me to be. Trying to be “Jesus with skin.”  Trying to ignore the discouraging whispers, lies, deceits. Fighting off a horrible cold that finally knocked me off my feet and into bed last week that I’m still recovering from. And the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s….a time that should be joyous, full of love, hope, thankfulness, family. A time to focus on the most precious Gift ever given.  The most stressful time of the whole year for me at WORK!!!  Deadlines, crazy projects, problems, things that could have been done months ago but all of a sudden, someone realizes it’s the end of the year, and other such nonsense…besides the additional rush of gift orders to fulfill. Along with the other seasonal stressful obligations that I try to avoid but somehow can’t…..How has this wonderful time of year become such a drag?

Time for some Advent Attitude Adjustment….but that’s another post…..

I’ve been reading Moses’ last speeches in Deuteronomy to the Israelites in my Chronological Bible, and I just can’t get past it. Not for a bad reason (other than I’m dragging my feet about reading all the laws that are gathered in one place in the Chronological Bible). But I just keep reading and re-reading what Moses is telling them….how God is faithful, about His promises, about how they messed up so many times and warnings NOT to anymore, etc. God is talking to me so much in these passages.

And He is talking to me through conversations with a friend who is going through some frustrating struggles. My words to her are God’s words to me:

The words about God shaking you up and control and surrender….it’s just that is what came to my heart as I was praying….I know that when things are out of whack for me, I struggle to keep things under my control – things that I really have NO control over at all but I’m grasping so tightly that I am not surrendering & trusting God.  And that only frustrates me more & causes everything around me to spin more out of control….the image is that of those bouncy balls bouncing all around a small room or a chicken running around with his head cut off (that image is a literal image that I got from my grandmother when she slaughtered chickens for our dinner….seriously! Still gives me nightmares!)

I know that things are so totally up in the air at church right now. It can be frustrating & I think we’d all like things to be “put to right” IMMEDIATELY. But unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen…I really feel, though, that it’s going to be all right. Better than all right, actually.

I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy  – when Moses is giving the Israelites his last speeches, reminding them of what God’s done & is going to do as they go into the promised land…and how they didn’t trust or have faith & had to keep wandering for 40 years. I can’t seem to get out of that book because I’m learning so much. God is talking to me so much…I keep going back & reading & re-reading!!!  Anyway, there is a verse that I keep coming back to & seems appropriate here: Deut 7:22 “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”

Then I read in a blog (thank you Dean Gutch) that it’s the journey….little by little…..if we depend on ourselves and not God to do the work He is doing in us, if things always happen at once & not little by little according to His plan and His way,  then some of those “wild animals” will multiply around us…..that could be pride in our accomplishment, complacency due our security, etc.  And I think He has more in mind for us and our situation. 

And another verse that keeps bouncing around in my head is Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”  YIKES! That’s what I keep thinking about myself!  That’s why I’ve been in the wilderness for so long?!?!

Also, please don’t let the enemy steal from you…..the accuser of the brethren who wants to destroy our relationships…with the Father, with each other.  He wants to spoil things.  I am reading a book called Listening Prayer & this is what I read this morning:

“Satan’s voice may make you feel defeated, isolated, hopeless, helpless, cynical about life, full of despair, etc.   He has a way of spoiling your attitude so you will turn your concentration away from the Lord and lose your sense of closeness to Him……Satan uses discouragement. He’ll try to convince you that God isn’t working quickly enough on your behalf. He’ll suggest that you should take matters in your own hands and manipulate the situation to your benefit instead of waiting on God’s ways and timing. (!!!! I’m just copying the words here!!!!! The above stuff was what I was already trying to figure out how to write to you!!!!)  He is trying to make you distrustful of God. He wants you to question if God really knows or wants what is best for you.”

Ok, yes, I’m understand & am trying to take to heart. But I’m still struggling with the worry about projects, money, those things I am grasping onto, those things I’m trying to control….

As I am inclined to do, I woke up in the middle of the night/VERY early morning, with these things on my mind and heart.  I cried out to the Lord for help, not really sure what help, just help!  When I looked at the clock, I realized that it was almost 3:30 a.m. and smiled. Becaaaaauuuuuussse….a few months ago, God gave me the gift of a Joyce Meyer program that comes on at 3:30 a.m. my time.  I just knew that God would talk to me through her as He has quite a few times. She just puts everything so plainly.

What did she talk about? The Shield of Faith! You can listen to it here. There is a part 2 also. Think I’d prefer to hear it online later rather that at 3:30 a.m. though.

She reminded me that faith doesn’t just stop at believing in Jesus…that it is much more….

That faith can grow….only as we use it!  Joyce used the analogy (heard it before but had forgotten) of muscle mass growing through effort….exercise, lifting heavier and heavier weights as your muscle has reached its plateau with each weight so that you need to lift heavier ones in order to continue growing. And of course, we are the same in our faith walk. We may get past one faith crisis/growth period, but unfortunately, God doesn’t want us to plateau out.  He wants us to keep growing in our faith, stretching us.  Faith grows THROUGH EXPERIENCE WITH GOD.

She spoke about several facets of faith, including waiting when we don’t think things are happening fast enough or God isn’t working on our behalf quite as fast as we’d like Him, too.   That faith dispels fear & worry. That we need to learn to LIVE in that faith, to exercise that faith…every single day, little by little. Hmmm…..is there a theme here?

Joyce reminded me to LIFT UP MY SHIELD OF FAITH! Not just drag it around with me. LIFT IT UP!