Wrestling with God (continued from You Want to be a What?)

IMG_20180420_033725515(If you haven’t read  You Want to Be a What?, you may want to read that first to provide the context for this dialogue.)

God, we need to talk.

I’m listening.

Did You send my friend over here today on purpose?

Maybe.

Is she right? That I need to release him to You before You can work in our lives?

Hmmm…

Does that mean You’re planning something for both of us? Or is this just for him?

What do you mean?

If you take him to serve You, You have a plan for him.

Of course.

Then what about me? I’m involved too.

Yes, you are.

I need You as much as he does.

Yes, you do.

I want Your perfect will for me as much as he does for him.

That’s nice to hear. But what are you really saying?

I don’t want to be left behind.

Ah.

And I’m upset. You told me it was OK to go out with him. To talk to him. To let my feelings grow.

Yes, I remember that.

So why? Why tell me that just to take him from me?

(silence)

Did you plan this to show me I can love again? If so, You could have shown me that when You gave me someone to keep.

(silence)

Did you call him away to show me how much I love him? If so, You could have let me discover that on my own.

(silence)

If this is to show him something, then that’s even worse because that’s using me. Downgrading me, like I’m not important. You love me and promised to take care of me. You can’t just use me like that.

(silence)

If You’re doing this to push him in a different direction, then I want some definite guidance, too.

(silence)

If You’re going to split us up, then I want a reason. It makes no sense to put us together, encourage us grow close, just to separate us. That’s mean, and You’re not mean so I can’t believe that’s what You are doing.

Whew. I was worried there for a minute.

Why are You doing this?

Trust

Trust?

Do you trust Me? You’ve been saying you do. Do you really?

(pause)

Well?

I’m thinking about it.

I’ll give you a moment.

Trust is hard but I believe You love us and want what’s best for us. So yes, I trust You.

Here’s another question: Do you really want My perfect will?

Definitely. You’ve already shown me many times that Your will is better than mine.

One more question. Will you really give Me everything?

I’ve already given You everything.

Everything?

OK, not everything. Not him. You want him? He’s Yours.

Good.

Wait! Don’t take him just because I’m giving him to You.

(laughter)

Lord, here’s the bottom line. I will accept whatever You want for me – for us – with one condition: that I know it’s Your will. I don’t have to have a reason. I just need to know that it’s Your will and not our misguided decisions.

Are you finished? Is it My turn to talk?

Yes, Lord.

I love you and want what’s best for you, just as I love him and want what’s best for him. Trust Me. Keep going out with him. He’s OK. It’s OK. You’re in my will.

Soooo… do You want him to be a priest?

No.

Then what in the world is this all about? What do You want me to do?

Continue what you are doing. Listen to Me. Relax. I know what’s going on and I’m in control. I will take care of you. I’m on your side. Will you trust Me?

to be continued

You Want to Be a What?

IMG_20180417_221006378

She looked at him with disbelief. Did he just say what she thought he had said?

“But what about us?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

She wasn’t happy. More than that, she was hurt. After months of getting to know each other, they were inseparable. She spent most weekends with his family to be close to him. And, when he could, he traveled the hour distance to her house to surprise her. She had even begun thinking this might lead to marriage one day. And now this!

“It’s not like I’m leaving tomorrow,” he continued. “We can still spend time together.”

“Doing what? Are we allowed to even hold hands anymore?”

“I don’t know,” he repeated.

She tried to sort through all the feelings flowing through her. Hurt was way up there on the list, along with a feeling of betrayal. She had finally begun to open up to someone, and now God was taking him away from her.

“How do you know He’s really calling you to do this?” she asked him.

“I prayed about it with a friend. He saw me pulling at a white collar around my neck. I think that means God wants me to go to seminary, but not immediately. He wants me to relax first.”

“What does that even mean – relax first?”

“It means to not worry about it right now.”

“That may be fine with you, but what about me? How do I date a future priest? Do we hold hands? Kiss? That just seems wrong.”

“I don’t know. Let’s just take this one day at a time.”

They parted, neither of them happy, and both wrapped in their own thoughts.

All the way home she thought about what he had said. A priest? Him? Now? Was this some kind of game God was playing with their hearts? If it had been another girl that was threatening their relationship, she could fight. But fight God? How does anyone fight God?

“Lord,” she finally prayed, “I don’t know why You’re doing this. But I know you love us and want what’s best for us. So although I don’t understand, and really don’t like it, I will trust You.”

Trust is one thing, she thought. But the pain is another. And this pain isn’t going anywhere.

The following days were hard as she tried to wrap her head around what God may be doing and what her place in it was. It seemed mean for Him to bring them together, only to separate them. She struggled to maintain her trust in God through the waves of pain, betrayal, sadness, loss, confusion, and anger that flooded her.

A few nights later, as she cried her way through her prayers yet again, she sought a word from the Lord, something to comfort her or to give her hope. But she heard nothing.

“Fine, Lord,” she finally said. ” The most important thing is that You are pleased with me in all this so if this is what You want, then so be it.”

He smiled at her, understanding in His eyes.

“That doesn’t help,” she told Him. “I was really hoping that You’d say it was just a test, that I passed and I could have him back.”

He just continued smiling at her and she knew He knew what He was going to do and He wasn’t going to change His mind. And He wasn’t going to tell her either.

Well then, maybe she wasn’t ready to hear those plans. Maybe she didn’t want to hear those plans. Maybe she should just ignore this whole thing, pretend it didn’t happen and just keep on dating this might-be-a-priest guy. After all, he did say God had told him to relax. And God wasn’t telling her anything.

“OK, Lord,” she said. “I know You’re going to be amazing in all this, but if You won’t tell me anything, and he doesn’t feel we need to change anything at this point, then I’m going to keep dating him until You take him or say otherwise.”

And so she did. Or tried to.

to be continued

Let the Cramping Begin

“We’re back!” they said with evil glee.

“Oh no!” she said. “Not now! The kids are here and there’s no one to cover for me! Can’t you just skip me this month?”

“Um, nope. We’re here.”

“Then come back later, after the kids have gone home.”

“Aw… one would think you didn’t like us,” they said, pretending to be hurt.

“I don’t. You’re timing is terrible.”

“Nah, we think now is a good time.”

All that Friday morning, as she took care of the kids she babysat in her home, she could feel her abdomen tightening in anticipation of the intense pain that usually accompanied these visitors each month. And she could hear them taunting her.

IMG_20180413_190428400

“It’s going to be bad this time.”

“You’re going to scare the kids when you get sick right in front of them.”

“Feel that? It’s only going to get worse!”

“You may as well as give up. We’re going to be here a long time.”

At noon, she took some pain reliever and prayed, “Jesus, please bless these pills and make them work for me.”

“No! Not the pills!” they cried in mock horror. Then they scornfully laughed at her. “Those pills can’t even begin to touch what we have in store for you today.”

After settling the kids down for their naps, she sat down and held her abdomen. I don’t know what to do, she thought. What will happen if I can’t take care of the kids when they wake? And what about the after-school kids coming later this afternoon?

A small thought made its way into her brain. “You don’t know what to do, but you know Someone who does.”

Of course! Why didn’t she think of that sooner? She placed one hand flat on her abdomen and raised the other hand towards her Healer.

“Wait! What are you doing?” they asked nervously. She had not done that before and it looked a lot like a prayer position to them.

“Just watch,” she responded.

Then she closed her eyes and began speaking. “Jesus, Lord of all creation, You made me and You know how my body works. Please hold back these cramps from me while the kids are here. And while I attend the football game tonight. After that, it doesn’t matter. If the cramps have to happen, I’ll be able to spend the day in bed tomorrow with them.”

Then after a moment, she added, “But I can’t promise not to complain or ask You to take them again if You allow them back.”

“That won’t work. He doesn’t care about a little bit of cramping,” they jeered.

“He cares about everything I care about.”

“Your prayers don’t always work. They’re not going to work this time either.”

“That’s up to God. I trust Him to take care of me.”

“Not if we have anything to say about it,” they said as they became more active – pulling and pushing and twisting inside her.

Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to lay down to see if that would help.

“That’s right,” they said. “Get ready for some fireworks! We’re just getting warmed up!”

Their taunts grew louder as her cramps intensified.

“You’re going to get so sick, you won’t be able to take care of the kids.”

“Yeah, they’re going to get up and destroy your house.”

“And maybe ever get hurt.”

“And then their parents are going to be so angry you took a nap and neglected their precious children that they will never bring their kids to you again. You will lose everything!”

And they laughed their evil laughs, enjoying their own imaginations.

“Jesus,” she began.

“Oh no! She’s praying again. Let’s see if He hears her this time.”

“I don’t know why these cramps are still here. I place them in Your hands. Please don’t let me fall asleep as I lay here.”

“No problem,” they laughed at her as if she was speaking to them. “You’re going to be hurting too much to fall asleep.”

“Thank You, Lord,” she continued. “Thank You for these cramps, for they show me that my body is working.”

“That’s a new one,” they said as they looked at each other. “This can’t be good.”

As she prayed, she kept her thoughts on Jesus, on what He’s done for her in the past and what He will do for her in the future. She began to doze.

They looked with bewilderment at each other. Something was happening. Something they hadn’t experienced with her before. They were shrinking right before their own eyes!

A little while later, she roused.  After making sure the kids were still sleeping, she checked on the cramps.  She couldn’t feel them. Were they gone? How could that be? Every month in the past, they would hang around for a day or two. How could they be gone in just thirty minutes?

“We’re not gone!” they yelled. “We’re still here!”

“Oh. Right. But I can barely feel you. You’re too little to do much. Jesus sure took care of you!”

“Just wait until next month. We’ll be back!”

“Bring it on. Jesus will still be here next month!”

And she spent the rest of the day singing praises to her amazing Healer-God!

Voices

Cast of Characters:

Voice One: a young girl, relatively new in the faith

Voice Two: the girl’s inner voice, whether her own or the Holy Spirit

Voice Three: the enemy (we all know who that is), sneaky quiet voice

Background: the young girl has been on a quest to learn about prayer in order to deepen her own prayer life

 

IMG_20180403_020709851

 

Voice One: Prayer often seems so empty and unanswered. What am I doing wrong? God, why are You so quiet?

Voice Three:  Where is your Jesus now?

Voice Two: He’s giving you a chance to grow in your faith. But He’s smiling down on you. He knows how this will end, and He is so proud of you.

Voice Three: You should have this by now. You’re not good enough to pray.

Voice One: I’m so sorry, Father. I wish I was better at this. Would You teach me? I’ve tried all week to have a quiet time, but I just don’t know how to.

Voice Three: See? Nothing. He won’t answer you.

Voice Two: That’s just the enemy. Don’t listen to him.

Voice One: Really? Satan is involved in this? Why? I’m nobody.

Voice Three: You’re so right.

Voice Two: You are the daughter of the King. That makes you a target.

Voice Three: Nah. you’re no threat. Not worth Satan’s time. You can’t even pray.

Voice One: So if Satan can’t steal my soul because I belong to the Father, why is he after me?

Voice Three: I’m not.

Voice Two: He wants to keep you so busy worrying about your spiritual growth that you can’t enjoy life. He can’t steal your soul, so he’s trying to steal your joy.

Voice One: Hmmm… that makes sense.

Voice Three: NO! It doesn’t! Who cares whether you are happy or not? That’s just selfish.

Voice Two: If you have no joy, it’s hard to spread God’s love to others.

Voice One: So I should just enjoy who I am.

Voice Two: Right.

Voice Three: That’s just hiding your head in sand. You think if you ignore your problems, they will go away.

Voice One: So if I just focus on who I am, how do I grow?

Voice Two: Your Father is in charge of that.

Voice Three: That’s what they want you to think. It’s the easy way out. Growth takes work and discipline and plans.

Voice One: But don’t I need to work at it, make plans and discipline myself to follow through on them?

Voice Two: That’s just the enemy again. Don’t listen.

Voice One: Then how do I grow?

Voice Three: You won’t.

Voice Two:  Does a baby concern himself with how make himself grow? Or does he relax and allow his parents to be in charge? To lead him to what he needs – school, exercise, food – at the right times?

Voice One: I think I understand. I just have to enjoy being with My Father, and He will lead me at the right time into doing what I need to do to grow.

Voice Three: Mayday! Mayday! I think I’m losing her! All demons respond!

Voice Two: Uh, no. Cancel that request. You will leave her alone for now. Go!

Voice One: Thank You, Father, that You’re in charge and I don’t have to be. I can just relax and enjoy the life You’ve given me. You are amazing, God. There is none like You!

I Need a Shower

For the last week, she felt dirty. Grimy. Well, not exactly. She knew each time she asked for forgiveness, she was forgiven. But that was more like a sponge bath. She knew she was clean, but she didn’t feel clean.

“Lord, I need a shower,” she told Him. “I need to be drenched in your forgiveness.”

She wondered how to make that happen.  Prayer? Confession? Fasting? Maybe she should talk with her pastor.

However, unseen by her, God had received her request and was making preparations His own way.

The night following her prayer, she was at the weekly prayer meeting. At the time for the teaching, one of the leaders stood up.

“Instead of a message tonight,” he said. “I think we need to all stand and repent before God. I don’t know why, but I think it’s important that we do that tonight.”

So she stood up with the others, and closed her eyes, and saw herself standing before the Father.

“Father, I’m sorry…” she began.

“Come here, Child,” He said with His arms open wide. She climbed up into His lap and snuggled with Him for awhile. Then, without anyone saying anything, she knew she was to go stand in front of Jesus.

“Are you ready?” Jesus asked her.

She nodded.

He poured His blood over her, cleansing her just as she had asked. But He didn’t stop there. After his blood, He poured His Spirit over her. Like a wax job, she thought, to preserve and protect me! And she worshipped her God in song.

IMG_20180330_042522002

Later, thinking about it, she was amazed all over again. God had been good to fulfill her desire so quickly. Even more, He had not asked her to grovel, begging His forgiveness. He had given it freely! She didn’t have to do anything. He had done it all!

Field of Flowers

She once again closed her eyes to spend some time with her Lord, and found herself in a field of flowers. She seemed to be as a small child, sometimes holding His hand, sometimes dancing around Him, as they walked.

“Look at all these beautiful flowers!” she said to Him.

“They are beautiful, aren’t they?” he responded as He looked at her.

There were so many different kinds and colors, she couldn’t help but laugh in amazement. She began picking some here, and some there, gathering as great a variety as she could manage to hold. When her hands were full, she offered them to Jesus. He smiled as He took them.

IMG_20180330_030030757

In a twinkling of an eye, He took her to the throne room where He handed the flowers to the Father, then, just as quickly, they were back in the field.

“Look at the flowers,” He told her. “Look how they are all growing beautifully for the glory of the Father.”

She looked at them, then grew sad.

“What’s wrong?” He asked her.

“These are growing beautifully, just like You said. But the ones I picked are not growing anymore. I ruined them.”

“No, child,” He said gently. “You didn’t ruin anything. Even the flowers you picked were given to the Father. It’s all for His glory – whether growing or picked.”

He continued. “Be like the flowers.  Be the beautiful you He made you to be. Enjoy life, praising and loving Him, relaxing in His care, and sharing your beauty with everyone.’

“That’s easy to do, when I’m in a place as wonderful as this field. But what if someone picks me? What if they take me away from the peace and joy of this field?”  She was thinking about all the demands the people in her life place on her.

“Don’t resist them. Give yourself joyfully. And just like those flowers, you, too, will be given to the Father for His glory.”

She thought she understood. At least here, in this place, it made sense. She wasn’t so sure it would feel the same when she put it into practice.

“Will You help me?” she asked Him. “When people make their demands and take me from where I want to be, will You help me remember the flowers?”

“Of course.”

He took her hand, and they continued their walk through the field of flowers.

Jesus Changes Things

She had always been nervous around people. From as far back as she could remember, her fear of people had kept her from enjoying family gatherings, public places, and even school. Sure, she could act like everything was OK. And sometimes she actually did find herself enjoying something that involved people. But even so, her nerves would cause her sweat glands to work overtime. Not just the simple underarm wetness that most people have to deal with. For her, it meant sweat dripping off her hands and running down her arms and sides. Enough sweat to actually form a puddle on the floor or on her chair. And she hated herself for it.

So she asked for prayer.

Her boyfriend prayed for her. Her friends prayed for her. Even the whole prayer group, including the inner healing team, prayed for her.

And things got worse.

She wondered, “Why? Could Satan have anything to do with this? Is it my will I’m fighting for against God’s will – does He want my total submission and this is bringing me to it? Is it premenstrual strain building up for the last couple of weeks? Am I not getting some kind of nutrient I need?”

She said, “God, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want to be with people anymore. I just want to be alone. And I’m sorry for hiding out in the bathroom last night instead of joining the group in prayer. They were going to hold hands and I just couldn’t deal with the nerves and the sweat.  Nevertheless, I love You and I’m going to trust that you know what’s going on.”

Many times when she was feeling bad about herself, she would receive an unexpected gift – a rose, a picture drawn by a child, or a card in the mail – that she attributed to God. The time was no different. Actually, it was. She didn’t receive a gift – she received several gifts!  Some chicken from one friend, and some rolls and a desert from another friend. But best of all was a t-shirt that arrived weeks earlier than she expected. Across the front of the t-shirt were the words, “Jesus changes things.” Amazing coincidence? Absolutely not!

IMG_20180326_041551029

“Thank You, Lord! I love it!” she responded as she clutched the shirt to her heart. He had heard her, and His reassurance that He would change her was exactly what she needed.

It would be years before she would see the evidence of the changes He was doing inside her. But while waiting, every time she started to give up, she’d see the message on the shirt and her faith would be renewed. Once again, God showed His amazing love for her by providing her with the perfect gift at just the right time.

Little Red Throne Chair

Everything was quiet. Everyone’s eyes were closed. It was time to be with God.

She sat very still, eyes closed like everyone else, and waited for what God would tell her. While waiting, she sometimes imagined herself standing in His throne room. She would picture herself kneeling at His feet, standing before Him with her head bowed, or even curled up on His lap. But this night, it was different. As she stood there, before she could decide what she wanted to do, He pointed to a small red throne-type chair and said, “Sit here, My daughter.”

IMG_20180322_205238910

She opened her eyes and thought surely that was just her imagination. A throne chair? For her? Was that even biblical?

“What did you see?” Patti asked her.

“How do you know I saw something?” she responded cautiously, not wanting to share something as questionable as the chair.

“I just know. Something in my spirit. You saw something. What was it?”

So she told Patti along with the others who were listening. Their excitement for her got her to thinking…  what if it’s not just my imagination? What if I really am in His throne room and that I can actually go into it whenever I want? Wouldn’t that be amazing!

Just to be sure, she looked in the Bible and found…

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…” Hebrews 4:16 

Yes, she thought, it is biblical that we can go in the throne room, even now, while we are still alive.

“… so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones…” Luke 22:30

Well, He was actually talking to His disciples. But if all His followers are invited to eat at His table, maybe all of His followers will also get to sit on thrones! So maybe her vision of the little red throne chair wasn’t so crazy after all!

Even When You Complain

She ran away. Like she always tried to do when confronted with too much stress. This time it was a decision she was having a hard time making. Go to the church service Ruth wanted her to go to? Or go to the prayer meeting at Louis’s house that she had been invited to, again. She didn’t want to do either but didn’t know how to say no. So she ran away to her favorite place – the beach.

Once on the beach, she sat down and began complaining and answering herself, not waiting for God to speak. Almost immediately, like a cool breeze and just as quick, she got the impression that Jesus sat down next to her. Even so, she continued to complain. “Why is hearing from God so hard? Why doesn’t He ever speak audibly to me? It’s not like it would make a difference in my faith or love for Him.  Why do I have to stay here in this small town? There’s nothing here for me. What would I do if I knew I was going to be here for a couple more years? Probably nothing more than what I’m already doing. Why do I have to go to Louis’s prayer meetings? That makes three meetings a week. That’s too much! How can I get out of it?  Maybe I could tell him that, although I won’t be attending the meetings, I would still like to be invited to any other gatherings they have. Like maybe if they have a picnic.”

That gave her a great idea – a beach party! She could invite all the believers she had come to know in this town – which weren’t that many actually. They could roast marshmallows and sing worship songs around the campfire!  That would be awesome! She got so excited, she forgot about complaining.

She looked up into the darkening sky and saw the moon. It looked to her like the eye of God was looking directly at her. She smiled up at it and asked God to help her with her new plans. Then as she left, still smiling, she thanked Jesus for the quiet time on the beach. And she was once again amazed at the unconditional love He had for her even when she was upset and full of complaints!

IMG_20180325_175226534

The Attack… and Some Brown Leaves

Already feeling low from struggling with a decision she was finding hard to make, she was not prepared for her dad’s attack.

“Christians are all ignorant fools,” he told her. “Too stupid to use their own minds, they just follow whatever the church says. Blind faith. Stupid faith.”

“It’s not like that,” she tried to explain. But he wouldn’t listen.

“You’re no better than them. You have been brainwashed into believing God can actually love you. That He’s actually interested in your life. He is God! Creator of the universe! He doesn’t care about each tiny individual. He made the world and now it’s up to us.”

“But that’s not what Jesus said…”

“Jesus!” he interrupted her. “He may have been a good man, but he was not God. He didn’t know any more than anyone else. People just made him into something he wasn’t because they needed something to hold on to when life got tough. Jesus is nothing more than a crutch.”

“He’s more than that, dad. He is God and He is with us. I know! I met Him!”

“If you believe that, you’re no better than any of those other delusional people. If you were smart, you’d drop this fantasy and look at life as it really is.”

“What about the Bible? The Bible says that Jesus is God and..” She was cut off again.

“It was written by ignorant people trying to explain a world they didn’t understand. We know better now. Science has proven most of the bible inaccurate. It’s just a book of fairy tales…”

And on and on he went, his voice rising as his anger against Christianity grew. Eventually, he got tired of ranting and left the room. She sat there, feeling as sore and bruised as if he had actually beat her. She slowly got up and got ready for bed. She started to pray but stopped. How could she? She didn’t deserve to be with Jesus. She had not been able to defend Him, to speak up for Him, to make her dad understand. She had let Jesus down. She felt like she couldn’t have Jesus anymore – not because He didn’t want her, but because they just couldn’t be together anymore. And she wanted Him. Not just because she needed Him and without Him, she wouldn’t have life, but because she loved Him. And so she wept.

The next day was spent in misery. She felt like God was on her side concerning her belief VS her dad’s belief, but that didn’t help much. She still felt like she had let Jesus down.

That night, before entering the church hall for the weekly prayer meeting she attended, she decided to take a walk down the church yard. It was dark, and the ground was covered with brown leaves from the many trees in the yard. As she walked with her eyes down, she began talking to God, telling Him how she felt. She really didn’t feel like attending the meeting. She was in no mood to go in there and greet everyone with hugs and smiles and pretend everything was OK. So she asked God what she needed to do.

“Rejoice, and praise Me in song and with your words.”

She sighed. “OK. Fine. But it won’t be emotional.” Then she added, “Please keep me from being a wet blanket on everyone else.”

As she walked, she pictured Jesus walking next to her. As often was the case, her image seemed to take on a life of its own, and she saw Jesus act like He was feeling as down as she was and kick at the leaves.

IMG_20180324_183441212

This made her smile. Jesus feeling down? And kicking at the leaves? She looked up at Him as she joined Him in kicking leaves, and she saw that He was smiling.

“Jesus, You are amazing! You always know just the right thing to do for me!”

And she went into the hall to greet everyone with hugs and smiles and act like everything was OK. Because it was.