About four months ago, I decided I wanted to grow much deeper in my faith. I had just come out of a years-long spiritual desert and was ready to learn how to walk in the fresh outpouring of the Spirit that I sensed was finally falling upon my heart. So I bought some study books and kicked off my new spiritual journey with a week of prayer and fasting.
Since then, I’ve seen God do some incredible things in my life. He’s expanded my faith exponentially. He’s deepened my understanding of the gospel and strengthened my spiritual gifts. He’s given me favor on the job. He’s brought greater health to my body and peace to my heart. He’s answered several of my prayers in miraculous ways. I should be on top of the world, right??
You’d think so. Instead, I’m lying face-down in a shattered mess on this thing called the cornerstone.
See, it seems the closer I draw to Christ – and the more powerfully he works in my life – the more everything around me seems to fall apart. My husband’s schedule with the Navy has gotten crazier in the past several weeks, adding to my workload at home. My son has become even more active and aggressive, to the point where he often hits and kicks me. (Remember that post I wrote about gentle parenting? Forget it!) My demanding life between work and home has forced me to drop nearly all of my volunteer activities at church, which I feel has cut me off from most ministry opportunities. (What’s up with that, God??) At the same time, I’m facing an extremely stressful situation in my family, in which my parents need my emotional and moral (and, at times, financial) support. So far, I have only been able to offer said support to my mom. I’m so physically and emotionally maxed out, I haven’t yet mustered up the gumption to reach out to my dad.
My stress level is so high, I recently had to go on medication for constant migraines. Every nerve is fragile. Taut. Stretched to the breaking point.
Meanwhile, it seems the lives of everyone I care about are falling apart, too. A close coworker recently miscarried a pregnancy for the second time. My next door neighbor has undergone two surgeries for bladder cancer. Several of my friends are hurting and asking for prayer. If only I had the strength to pray.
Sometimes I open my mouth, and the only thing that comes out is a squeak.
I’m not abandoned. I feel Christ’s presence with me. But it’s a bit like I’ve entered into an all-out slug fest with the devil while Jesus, my boxing coach, watches from the sidelines. When I fall to the floor of the ring exhausted and bruised, he picks me up, looks me in the eye and asks, “Will you trust me?” Occasionally, I have to think about that for a minute. At times, I can’t even verbalize an answer because the wind is knocked out of me. All I can do is nod. And then he helps me back up to take another beating.
I can do it over and over again as long as I can remember that this battle has already been decided. I know who wins.
But it’s hard. Sometimes the blows come so quickly that I can’t focus on what comes next. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in this ring. Sometimes I think the devil really is going to wear me down.
Back in July, I attended a leadership seminar at my church. As part of our homework one week, we attendees were asked to write five personal faith confessions that we could recite on a regular basis. One of mine was based on John 15:2: “Anything that is not of you [Christ], I allow you to cut off and cast away.” For a couple of weeks, I read it every day. Then I had to stop. I had to stop because every single time I read it, I had a horrible, no-good, really bad day.
I’ll read it again someday, but I’ve got all the bad I can handle right now. I suspect Jesus is still cutting.
Does Joel Osteen have a book on this?