When I first started this blog, my girls were 8 and 12. Now they are 16 and 20! How time flies and things have changed! My youngest is going to be a Junior (11th grade) in High School this Fall, and my oldest will be a Junior in college. My husband is still working as a truck driver. The job he has now is much better than the first, but it is still a challenge as it takes a lot of his time and energy, which strains our marriage. We are continually praying for something better while praying for the grace to accept it for now. Following are exerpts from journal about my story with God leading up till that time when my girls were 8 and 12 that has had such a big impact on my life.
When I was a teenager about twenty years ago, I wanted to believe in God and love Him, but I could not believe He was real. It just seemed too good to be true. At the same time, I was discontent and tried to satisfy my desire for God’s love by being promiscuous with boys. I tried to find my worth in them. Of course, this never worked. The satisfaction was only temporary, and the boys did not care about me. I didn’t understand at that time that what I really needed was God, and that only He could truly satisfy me on a much deeper level.
When I went away to college, I was three hours away from my parents and my future husband, and was very lonely. I saw a sign posted on the wall of one of my classroom buildings for a student bible study. For some reason I went, although it was not something I would normally do. When I got to the bible study, I found these kids my age, who loved God. The were voluntarily going to bible study. Their parents didn’t make them! That was enough to convince me that God was real, and He was alive inside of them.
Shortly after that, I went home to the room I rented at college and poured everything in my heart out to God, every problem and worry that I had. I finally believed He was real and was listening to me. Then I read the Bible. I started in Matthew. When I got to Matt. 6:33 (below), God spoke to me. For the first time I understood a Bible passage. He was answering my prayer. He was telling me He wanted me to seek Him first, then He would work out everything else that I had prayed to Him about. That made sense to me, and that is what I wanted. He saved me that night. Because Jesus died for me, I could be forgiven of my sins. I asked Him to come into my heart and be my Lord. I knew I was now different, and belonged to Him.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jn. 3:16
Dealing with False Guilt
For the first couple of years after God saved me, I was basking in our honeymoon, thrilled with my new God. He was real, and He loved me. I also had a value system, the Bible to show me what was right and wrong, and I felt secure in that. As I spent time with Him and went to college bible studies, my relationship with Him developed. Towards the end of college, Satan started wearing me down with false guilt to where I had a hard time enjoying God because I didn’t know if the guilt was from Him. I remember being so overwhelmed by guilt and worn out by the struggle that when I got married after graduating college, I just left God. He never left me, but I moved away from Him. Also I was originally saved because I was away from my future husband and my family, alone at college for the first time. I think subconsciously I felt since I’d have my husband all the time now, I wouldn’t need God as much. Totally not true, of course! Over the next couple of years the Holy Spirit gently nudged me over and over to come back, and then our relationship could begin to grow again.
After that, God gradually taught me to recognize when my guilt was hammering at me. If I felt like I was being pushed away from God, that was Satan. God would not push me away from Him. God still may be trying to get me to do something, but He always loves me and would never push me away. He can even handle me when I don’t get it or succeed at what He wants. And He is gentle and humble, and would not ask more of me than I could bear. Of course it helps to have a willing spirit (by God’s strength). When I fear what God is going to ask, then I feel guilty. But when I am willing, then at least I try, even if I fail. That is what He wants is a willing spirit. He can work with that.
Giving God Everything
A few years after we were married at the table in the kitchen of our first house, God asked me if I trusted Him. I flippantly said, “Of course!” I thought I did at the time. But then I went through a pregnancy where things didn’t go my way, and I realized that I really didn’t trust him. I got mad at Him and ignored Him for a while after that. It took me awhile to get over it and fellowship with Him again. Gradually He taught me to accept His will and trust Him as I dealt with other disappointments. My best friend moved away, a sweet cat that was my Valentine present from my husband died unexpectedly, and I had a miscarriage. As I accepted His will in each of these things, He would draw me me another step closer to Him. It became easier each time to submit and trust Him.
As He was teaching me to trust Him, I was also trying to depend on earthly things to satisfy me. I would use food, tv, books, vacations, holidays, anything I could find to try to satisfy myself. I was trying to make myself feel good, to get a thrill. But these things were always temporary, and eventually God stopped allowing them to satisfy me at all. Then I became depressed. Nothing made me happy, and I could not even enjoy the old standbys that used to always satisfy me. They no longer worked.
Another weakness I have had during my whole Christian walk with God was relying on my emotions and not really trusting Him. So I am subject to ups and downs with Him. For a little while I’d be close to Him and then I would crash, and all the closeness seemed gone. It was so frustrating.
God made progress more quickly toward working on these problems a few years ago when I started going to the women’s bible studies at church. The first one stressed having a daily quiet time. By this time, He made it easy for me to do so because my younger child had just started kindergarten, and I had time to myself. I had no excuse not to do my quiet time in the mornings. So I finally began to have a regular quiet time. Then He began to show me how deeply He loves me, how gentle and kind, compassionate, humble, and patient He is. More so than I ever imagined. I always assumed there was some catch. Some “well God loves you, but you can’t be close to him because…” or “You’re not good enough for Him,” or “There are too many things to worry about or stress over to really rest in him,” – all lies! He gave me glimpses of His feelings for me, His deep love and tenderness. I was amazed.
Then about a year and a half ago, I asked God, “How can I be more steadily close to You all the time?” He said, “Give Me everything.” So after thinking about it, and after the work He had done my my whole life to convince me that He is trustworthy and loves me, I could finally say in a fearful prayer, “I’ll try, if You help me.” This was the beginning of the greatest adventure of my life.
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matt. 17:20
I CAN Trust Him
I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. Jer. 29:11
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt. 11:28-30
After giving everything to God, my husband found out that the company that supplies the work for our mapmaking business would be sold, and we may be out of work within a month. We were in shock. He had had this job for 13 years. We had no idea what else he would do. This business was based out of our home. Dave and I worked together and the kids saw their Dad all the time. Looking back it was really an ideal life, though we really didn’t realize it at the time. We had been living in a gentle, protected bubble.
I was scared, half-trusting, half-anxious, e-mailing my sister about my worries, when I realized I was talking like a faithless person. It’s like I want to act like I don’t trust God or am distressed so He can come in and rescue me, and reassure me, and baby me over and over, but why? Why am I playing this game? Like “hard to get”. Maybe it protects me from being fully invested, then failing and getting hurt. If I don’t admit my complete trust in God, then I can be somewhat protected when I fail?
But God was asking me why I was acting this way, when I really did trust Him? I don’t have to take on the world for Him, just follow Him and trust Him. I have to look at His character, who He is, what I have experienced of Him: gentleness, kindness, tenderness, patience, sweetness, righteousness, justice, and love. So I chose to trust Him, with lots of His help. I wanted to be a good witness for Him, to trust Him, to show that He is trustworthy, to honor who He is, and show the world who He is.
As I’ve chosen to trust Him, He has proven Himself worthy of my trust. I have such peace, joy, and contentedness in His presence. He is so patient and gentle as He helps me grow. Each new hurdle He brings me to is almost easy. He makes my challenge just at my level with all my weaknesses and flaws so that I can do it. He does not test me beyond what I can bear. The thing I was so fearful of is brought to my level so that all I need to do is take a small step. “Faith as small as a mustard seed.” His yoke is easy and his burden is light. I CAN trust him! Here I thought He was so hard, unrelenting, demanding, a task master (forgive me God!), but He is the opposite. I CAN trust him! All I have to do is be willing. I don’t have to do everything, only be willing to do what He asks, and He is trustworthy.
Deliverance from Idols
Intimacy comes to those who want God more than pleasure, stuff, fame, accomplishments, sex, sports, money, comfort, and life itself. As well, intimate loves of God know the joy of watching a thousand earthly treasures pale in the light of the shimmering glory of His face. Soon, all that remains is Jesus. (Giglio, Thirsty, 29)
Since I have given God everything, God has been working on getting control over my idols, my addictions, the things I would try to use to make me content. These eventually lead to my depression, where I could find joy in nothing, least of all my idols. I use tv to make me happy. I used to read Christian fiction at night to make me feel comfortable, “at home”. Food is a big addiction for me. It is my comfort for boredom or frustration. I looked forward to vacations and holidays to bring me joy. I used going out to eat for a temporary thrill. When we were first dating and married, my husband was my idol. I looked to him to make me feel good, to comfort me, love me. When I was younger, I tried to be validated by succeeding at school, playing clarinet, and diving on the swim team. I try to get approval through parents, bosses, and teachers, and acceptance from friends.
But there is only One who can do all those things successfully and truly. Only God can make me content, lift me out of my depression, make me happy, be my home, relieve my boredom, and frustration. Only He can make me feel better, feel good, comfort me, and truly love me. Only He can satisfy. Only He can bring me real joy, truly thrill me, validate me, approve me, and give me value and worth. Only His acceptance matters, through His Son. He is my all. He holds me and protects me. He is trustworthy. He loves me more than I can know. And He is all-powerful, which means He accomplishes what He sets out to. And he is Good.
I still struggle with these things, but I have to remember that only through God, first, can I be made content. He is my Source. Then, I can enjoy my tv, my books, my food, my husband, vacations, holidays, eating out, school/work, activities, parents, and friends within their appropriate boundaries. I can enjoy them if I’m letting God satisfy me first. They can’t satisfy and only bring depression when I find out that they have failed.
Giving Up Control
Underneath are the everlasting arms. Deut. 33:27
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5
After all of this closeness with God recently, I started to become paranoid that it would all end. Too good to be true, well it could be good for a little while, but then I’d have to learn a lesson or something, and it was really upsetting me. As I was brushing my teeth, God showed me verses in Isaiah that spoke about His awesomeness, and all the great things He had done. And I just started gulping them down like I was starving. I read all verses I could find in Isaiah, then I went to Psalms, Job, then Revelations. It was like I was starving to hear about how wonderful He is. And then I felt better, my eyes off me, I guess
During my quiet time, God told me that I am trying to control my relationship with Him, and I need to give it up and trust Him. Let Him be in control. Trust Him to do whatever with our relationship. It should be easy, but my personality is so anxious, pessimistic, fearful. Help me, God, to get this. And thank you so much for caring for me. Whenever I have a worry or an anxiety, if I go to You, You answer me and calm me. That means so much to me, that you care for me. I love you. Thank you.
Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come… He will come to save you.’ Isaiah 35:4
Later God told me three things: First, I have been so close to Him lately, after asking Him to help me give Him everything. But I’ve been worried, anxious, guilty, day after day. So tonight once again, I felt that way, and God asked me to go outside to talk to Him. I gave him all my anxieties, looking for answers, and He just gave me peace. Like, stop struggling, you have Me. No answers, but it’s okay. If it’s okay with Him, who am I to argue? Should I be harder on myself than He is? Or guilt myself into doing something that He doesn’t even want?
The second thing He told me is that Satan is attacking me. I was wondering what was wrong with me that during the closest time with Him I’ve ever had, I am anxious about Him withdrawing his presence, guilty about what I’m afraid to do for Him. Why can’t I just enjoy Him? I must be crazy! But this explains a lot and makes sense, to be attacked when I am so close to God.
The third thing He told me was that it was his idea for me to come out on the patio to talk to him. One of my anxieties was that I’m seeking after being close to Him, but not doing the hard part of Christianity (whatever that is), just being selfish and superficial to want so much from Him, so much intimacy, affection, His Presence. But He reminded me that it was He wanted me to seek Him on the patio. It was His idea! So He wanted to talk to me and be with me first. Thank you God. I love you so much!
Your Love is Better Than Life
In trying to understand what I was going through with God, I read several books that seemed to relate to my experience. Brian “Head” Welch (who wrote Save Me From Myself ) was amazed by how intensely God worked in his life after He delivered him from a drug addiction:
“I felt a peaceful presence hovering over me. Then I felt something hug me – wrapping around me in an embrace…liquid love poured into my body and all around me…I fell deeply and passionately in love with God, and I made up my mind that He was in control of every part of me from then on…When you decide to trust God that way, you don’t take care of yourself anymore – God takes care of you.” (Brian Welch, 140, 147, 148)
Later I was reading Every Thought Captive, and the author, Jerusha Clark said she went through a time when she was reading verses like “Your love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3), and “Earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25), she “began to feel them.” She said, “As I sang words such as ‘Give me one pure and holy passion’ and ‘You satisfy me with Your love,’ my body resonated with pleasure. As I laid aside sinful habits in which I attempted to find physical satisfaction, I recognized the gratification I really longed for was found only in His Presence. The pleasure I began to have in relating to my Lord lessened the draw of earthly delights.” (144)
Earth has nothing I desire besides You. Ps. 73:25
I think God showed me why He reveals Himself to us so dramatically sometimes. God delivered Brian “Head” Welch from a drug addiction. Then God had to fill that intense need that drugs had been filling. He also brought pleasure to Jerusha Clark when she gave up earthly habits for Him. These things sound like what happened to me. God convinced me that my earthly pleasures were not sufficient to satisfy me, and when I allow Him to take their place, He fills the huge hole left behind in my heart.
Your love is better than life. Psalm 63:3
I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. I finally feel satisfied by God. He already taught me to get my fulfillment from Him, instead of vacations, tv, books, food. But He has been so close to me lately, He has absolutely consumed me, to where all I can think about is Him. He’s all that I want. Food does not interest me, and it annoys me when I keep getting hungry again!
He has changed me. I am obsessed and addicted! I have an obsessive personality, and I am thrilled that He took my obsessiveness and turned it towards Him. He made me want Him. He won my heart. He has convinced me that He is worthy of everything – all of me. He has made me want to pray that He teaches me to do His will and make me like Him, to make me into what He wants me to be, to be His servant.
Your love is better than life. Psalm 63:3
He has made me want to serve Him and obey, out of sheer gratitude, awe, humility, amazement at who He is, what He is doing for me, how much He loves me. He has told me that when I feel like I’m being obsessive and thinking about Him every minute, He is thinking about me every minute! And in fact, I am probably responding to Him thinking about me first! When I feel like I’m being obsessive and wanting to be alone with Him several times throughout the day, I am actually responding to His call. It was His idea!
I’ve learned that I can approach Him with confidence, and He will respond. In fact, He called me. I’ve learned that He wants to see me as much (or more) as I want to see Him. But I’ve always felt like He didn’t in the past, so I did not approach Him with confidence. Therefore I had trouble getting close, due to my lack of faith.
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence. Heb. 4:16
I’ve also learned not to doubt Him. I would worry about something and pray, and He would answer me. But then, away from Him, I’d start to worry all over again. I’ve learned to remember His answer or reassurance that something is okay and believe it. Believe what He says, trust Him. He does not lie. He is faithful! In fact, it is a matter of honoring Him, being a witness of His goodness before heaven and earth, and glorifying His Name when I believe Him.
When I spend time with Him alone throughout the day, I feel so close and intimate with Him. I feel like I’m asking too much. He told me that couples who are in love would act. They want to be together all the time and their lives center around each other. The difference is that this is the eternal God, and I don’t ever have to leave Him. He is always with me, listening to me, thinking about me. He loves me perfectly. He knows me inside and out. He knows how to persuade my heart to obey and to change.
I made you Mine.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. Isa. 43:1
I was on my knees before Jesus in my mind and asked Him, “What did you do to me?” referring to the awesome experience I’d been having with Him lately. He said, “I made you Mine”! He is dethroning my gods of food, tv, books, vacations, and addictions. He isdoing what I could not do, and now He is my King, on the throne of my heart! And He is good and holy, and He loves me more than I’ll ever know!
Since I agreed to give God everything, I have been changed. He has given me more of a desire to seek Him and spend time with Him. He has been closer to me, but He has also made me want His will more, to obey Him, to love others, and to love His Word. He changed me so much, sometimes I don’t even recognize myself.
I’ve have never regretted giving everything to Him, despite the struggles I’ve been through since then. He is the greatest Love I’ve ever known, the most awesome thing to ever happen to me. I feel like He had brought me to life after being a walking dead person all those years. I’m on the adventure of my life. For the first time, I know where to find satisfaction and contentment and am thrilled to have a purpose with God. I have been captured by God.