healing

The games people play

An open letter to Christians dating (especially the ladies),
I wrote the post below last night, hit publish, and continued to play the game until I fell fitfully asleep regretting it:

So, I just got off FaceTime with my kids. They are at “the other house” this week. I keep going over the last few years of my marriage and the things my wife said to me the night she left. 2913052110_86f6b014a2_z

It seems like the biggest mistakes that I made in my relationship, the ones that ultimately drove my wife into the arms of another man and out of our marriage were:

  1. Being too available. I gave up a lot of hobbies and a second job to be at home with her and the kids and to help with the kids / housekeeping etc.
  2. Letting her know regularly how much I loved her. I bought cards just because. I wrote little notes. I sent texts. I bought flowers. I bought gifts. I never wanted her to doubt how I felt about her.
  3. I shared my feelings, concerns and weaknesses in a transparent and vulnerable manner.

No, I am not being sarcastic in the least. I know that those seem like the qualities that we’re all told to have as Godly men. Those are touted as positive characteristics that all Godly women are seeking. The night my wife told me she was leaving she shared all of the things she couldn’t stand about me and why she just had to “get out”. They included:

  1. You’re always around. You have no hobbies. Your whole life is me and the kids. That’s really pathetic.
  2. I feel like you care for me and love me far more than I do you. That’s not fair, and I can’t stand to look at that “I love you” look on your face anymore.
  3. I don’t feel like you’re a real man. See, you’re crying right now. You’re kind of a big baby.

Wow. This feeds into everything the male relationship gurus say about how we have to “play games” and pretend to be indifferent, disconnected, and unavailable to get a girl. Apparently this also applies to keeping a girl, even one you’re married to.

So, here we are, two years later. This girl I really like, who really seems to like me (we call or text every evening) hasn’t contacted me all day, and I haven’t contacted her. I’ve had plenty of opportunities. I’ve thought about her several times. I feel as though I initiate conversation too often though, so I am painfully letting the silence hang and waiting to see if she will contact me. How ridiculous is that? I really want to call her or text her, but I feel like if I do, I’m setting myself up to “lose the game”. I feel like I have to play the game. I hate feeling like that. I hate it.

I don’t want her to think I’m clingy. I don’t want her to think I’m too devoted. I don’t want to look like “a big baby”. That phrase will never leave my head. Thank you, prodigal spouse.

I also can’t help but think this is unbiblical or wrong, but it’s become a part of the courtship process because of the fall and I just have to live with it.

I hate this.

 

So, I regret playing games. I pray that I’ve done no lasting damage to my relationship with this amazing woman. All I managed to do, I think, was miss an opportunity to talk with her, but perhaps she enjoyed the break.GAMEFREE-2

Either way, I think if we have to play games, maybe the relationship isn’t worth it. My end goal is marriage, and I think the worse-case-scenario is not that I’ll lose the girl. That’s happened to me already in the worst way possible. I think that the worst thing that can happen is that I’ll end up married to someone I have to play the game with. I’ll end up with someone with whom I cannot:

  • Serve
  • Love
  • Honor
  • Cherish
  • Be transparent with
  • Love as Christ loved the church.

I don’t want that. So, this girl, as amazing as she is. This girl that I’m willing to wait for even though she is really busy, deserves more than to be played with. That said, if she wants to feel the need for “a chase” or desires a guy who is aloof, unavailable, and disengaged, then maybe she isn’t as awesome as I think she is and I’m better off without her. I will allow God to be my anchor, and no human relationship, no matter how much I desire it. I need to look to Him to hold this fast if it is His will. If it isn’t, then I’m better off without it. It’s just hard to see that sometimes, particularly when I’m down & feeling insecure.

Christian ladies, go read the dating advice websites. See what is being said about women and what they want. If you ever want a relationship that lifts you up instead of tearing you down. If you ever want to have a real spiritual leader in your home, you can begin by stopping with the games. If you’re getting a text every hour, yes, he may be a clingy-stalker-psycho. If you’re getting a nice text or call every day, he just might care for you, which I would think is what you want. If you’re seeing someone, and you don’t want him to second guess your feelings and whether or not he’s constantly being “tested”, don’t assume he knows. The social media marketing is intense. Every single or divorced guy’s Twitter and Facebook feed is filled with invasive intense marketing by these guys who say YOU WANT US TO TOY WITH YOU! Go ahead, send your man a text right now. Tell him you don’t need him to play hard to get. Tell him you appreciate his transparency and authenticity… that is, if you really do.

Blessings.

J.


 

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Identity Crisis pt. 2: Dreams, schemes, and recurring themes

Back in June, I posted a poem, called Identity Crisis. I am certainly in a different place now than I was then, but the first stanza still applies to my life to a certain extent:

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know how to act.

Honestly, I don’t know who to be.

Dreams

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Dreams, hopes, aspirations, or one’s calling tend to be one of the primary motivating factors in one’s life. It is our “dreams” that keep us going, that help us get out of bed in the morning, and keep us out of Pilgrim’s slough of despond. As standers, I would guess that most of us, like myself, were cruising along in life near the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We were thinking about our career and family goals or perhaps even seeking God about how He intended to use us in a bigger way. Then it hit, like an atomic bomb or category 5 hurricane, wrecking our life and knocking us down to the middle or bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. Our one-flesh partner said, “I don’t love you anymore” and went to live with someone else. Maybe they filed for divorce and are even going after the children and their half of all you own. At best we’re now operating somewhere between belonging and esteem, but we’re most likely between safety and belonging. This is true particularly if you face financial difficulties and / or a custody battle.

Maybe it’s wrong or shallow, but I’ve been crying out to God for something with which to replace my dreams. I just feel so despondent. I’m not excited about life anymore. There is so much monotony and the things I used to really look forward to about this time of year are all wrecked and demolished and mired in intrigue and scheming and satanic machinations. I spent more than half of my life wanting to escape reality. The last six years I have loved my life. I have embraced reality, and have for that brief season been very very happy. Now I find nothing but the desire to escape again. I just want some positive goals… something more than survive, hope for restoration, avoid losing my children, and avoid financial ruin.

I want to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), but I’ve lost sight of the goal. What is the goal? What is my goal? This is so simple yet so elusive. I am trying desperately to, as Paul says in Romans 12 to offer my body as a living sacrifice, so I may be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then I will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will… the goal to win the prize…

Schemes

My life is no longer proactive, but rather reactive. I find myself spending every day wondering when the next email or text message is going to come in that I must react to. Not only is the enemy keeping my wife in the far country with another man, but he’s actively using her as a tool to reap further destruction. Daily I face a new scheme to separate me from our children, give me some new legal of financial hoop to jump through, or complain that I have not met some expectation or responsibility that she arbitrarily made up for me to do.

Is this what my life is to be about, Lord? Am I to live in a constant state of reaction to negative situations? How long can I keep this up? Not long without Your strength. I need my daily bread, Lord. I need you to show up and help me. I’m being beaten into the floor over here. HELP ME!

Recurring Themes

So, I find myself mired in recurring themes, or as the Bible would call them, curses. My dad committed suicide when I was in elementary school, and I grew up with challenge after challenge. Even Christmas, a magical time for many children was bittersweet and somewhat empty. By the time I was getting beyond that, I received the gift of a step-father who wanted nothing to do with me and caused me to live in constant fear and rejection until I left home at 18.

Now I get to feel those feelings of rejection and inadequacy surrounding the Holidays all over again from my one-flesh partner, who has essentially said, “I wish you were dead”. I also get to watch my children struggle to understand what is going on. One of my favorite pastors to watch on Youtube, Derek Prince, describes this phenomenon both here and in his book, Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose, as:

a long, evil arm stretched out from the past. It rests upon you with a dark, oppressive force that inhibits the full expression of your personality. You never feel completely free to be yourself. You sense that you have potential within you that is never fully developed. You always expect more of yourself than you are able to achieve. Or again, that long, evil arm may have the effect of tripping you up as you walk. Your way seems clear before you, but from time to time you stumble—yet you cannot see what it was you stumbled over. For some uncanny reason, the moments at which you stumble are those when you are within reach of attaining some long-sought goal. Yet your goal eludes you.

What to do?

So the solution is both simple and miserably difficult at the same time. Seeking a stronger relationship with God, waiting on Him, and trying to spend more time with Him will ultimately:

  1. become a goal to focus on and cause me to thirst for more.
  2. strengthen me to face many trials.
  3. give me hope and increase my faith.
  4. give me confidence and power to rebuke the spirits of fear, despair, and heaviness.
  5. help me to trust God to take away the curse.

Great! We solved the problem. Problem solved! WRONG!

It’s not so easy to cultivate a stronger relationship with God, seeking Him, waiting on Him, and trying to spend more time with Him in prayer, reading the Word, and just sitting in His presence. It takes time and strength and discipline and perseverance. I’ve also found that no matter how often I ask, He won’t just give me warm squishy feelings for Him. I would love to be able to wake up with that “I’m in love” feeling again. It would be even better from God, who will never leave me nor forsake me. Unfortunately, a thirst for God requires cultivation. He won’t just give me a thirst for Him.

Instead, I wake up feeling rejected and empty. I go to do a job that I really love, working with people I really love, while being constantly haunted by empty the feeling that I am ultimately rejected by the one person for whom I care more than any other in the world. Meanwhile, I spend my day in fear of the next text message or the next email and what it will mean I have to do, face, or fight. That’s the enemy’s plan. Keep me focused on the circumstances… keep me reacting… keep me in despair and fear.

Fighting Back

So, I imagine that I can choose to fight back or give up. The enemy wants me to give up, and as attractive as that looks right now, I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. So, how do I fight back? I feel like I spend nearly all of my spare time, listening to or reading the Bible, listening to audio and video sermons, and praying through. I quote scriptures to the enemy, I proclaim scriptures to my empty house, and I remind God of his promises in scripture. I fast and pray. Still I struggle. What must I do?

I guess I need to crucify my flesh. I need to give up on searching for any fulfillment outside of Him, and I need to give up on the distractions that come my way. I need to make the hard decisions that it’s not okay to spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games, watching movies, practicing martial arts or thinking about any things that do not edify me. I need to force myself to open my mail. I need to reach out to the people who will really pray for me and let them know that I am not a spiritual giant. I am struggling. I am drowning. I need to be lifted up. I need to be ministered to. Maybe I need to fast and pray for God to open my heart, reveal Himself more, and help me to hear and know Him, rather than fasting for a laundry list of needs.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’m not. Maybe I just need to relax, trust, and obey. All I know is this is getting more heavy by the day, and I need more of Him.

Struggling to Stand?

from conversations with God and fellow standers.

Bill, intercessory prayer warrior, musician, and writer.

Designed for Bill, intercessory prayer warrior, musician, and writer. Copyright Bill Scott 2014. Check out his web site.

Standing for marriage restoration is hard. We’re people who are mourning the death of our most significant human relationship, yet no one has died. We’re people who have been rejected by the one person to whom we exposed our nakedness and vulnerability. We’re people who have been called to love while often being actively attacked and hurt by the person we love more than any other. The enemy is not content to attack our spouse alone. He desires to see us fall as well, and we struggle a lot with thoughts of despair and hopelessness. We ask questions like,

Do I really believe that with enough faith, a prayer will come to pass?

Does God even care about my situation?

Am I crazy?

Am I wrong; is it perhaps God’s will that my spouse find happiness with this other person?

Does God even have any power or authority in this situation?

What am I doing wrong that this continues?

God, do you at least care about my children??

I believe, and am reminded by everyone that God will take care of me. That is the pat answer we often get from Christian friends who don’t want to commit to anything that may or may not happen. God will take care of me. That might mean He will bring my spouse back, but to most people that means he’ll keep me alive and fed until someone else comes along and I settle for a life with that person.

Meanwhile, I know he has answered prayers that I have prayed. Lately, he’s been answering prayers in a spectacular and very specific way. Of course, he’s answering them all, except that one. I do believe that we should pray audaciously in his will, which we can learn through the scriptures. In my case, that means praying for a fully restored marriage. I wish that with enough faith, I could “name it and claim it”, like some kind of charismatic Bible sorcerer. Unfortunately, faith does not make me Gandalf or Belgarath. I cannot short change myself, though, I am an adopted son of the God of the Universe. Will he not take care of me? Will he not answer me when I pray according to his will?

I have to believe him. I have to believe his word. I know he’s a lot more worried about my holiness than he is about my happiness… Despite what the song says, happiness is not the truth. The truth is the truth. Happiness is a feeling. My wife is pursuing happiness. That’s why she’s in rebellion against God and destroying her family… I have to do what I know is right. I’m not saying this does not hurt, and I’m not saying that it does not suck. I am saying that God doesn’t spare us from the fire… He stands in it with us, when we obey. Unfortunately, the alternative is to give up on God, and I’m not prepared to do that. I was sharing these ideas with some fellow standers, and one of them said:

I think we shortchange God when we think He doesn’t take our desires and happiness into consideration. I’m not talking prosperity Gospel. He does want our holiness, but He made our human natures and, I believe, places many of the desires of our hearts in there. Obviously not the ones that go against His word and will, but seriously, who among us would have picked this route for our lives? I have heard specifically from Him that He’s using the love He put back into my heart for my husband as the motivation for me to continue to press into Him as hard as I am. I’m not pursuing Him just to get my husband back, but we all know we would probably not be pressing as hard and as urgently if there weren’t the pain and urgency. I’m not using Him…He’s using me, as it should be. I don’t believe He sets us up on wild goose chases, and He knows no matter how holy we become, we will still be disappointed if He does not bring the restoration He’s placed in our hearts. He would disabuse us of our belief that our marriages would be restored if they weren’t going to be. He would change our hearts and ease our pain. His love is flawless. I believe that if He meant for us to live single the rest of our lives, He’d enable us to be content in that and to even desire that. As a wavering (I don’t know if I can smoosh the God I have experienced back into the Church I’ve been a part of all my life) Catholic, believe me, I know MANY Sisters who were called to live that single consecrated lifestyle and they are ecstatic and fulfilled in it. If we believe He can and will change the desires of our spouse’s hearts, why would He not do that with us if restoration was not His intention? He’s not cruel. He is the epitome of the perfect Father. If you were your own child, would you not figure out a way to change your child’s belief about something you knew wasn’t going to happen? And that’s us, with no omniscience, or omnipresence or all the powers of the universe at our fingertips or perfect love. He absolutely is using this to perfect us in many ways, but He uses the surly cashier at the grocery to do that and everything else we come upon everyday. He’s asking us to have radical faith to the point that we’re viewed as delusional and desperate and cuckoo. That’s when He’s working big things in people’s lives. I know I’m not desperate. I could easily walk away from this and find another man, but then, I’d have to find another God who is not the One True God, and that’s what I’m not really willing to do (@TitusWoman13).

God made me. I’ve just been re-hashing that idea in my devotions this week. God made my human nature and the desires of my heart. It is not ungodly to desire reconciliation with my covenant spouse. I have to face the fact, though, that it isn’t entirely right to desire that reconciliation more than my relationship with God. Admittedly, in my heart of hearts, I would give up all the spiritual growth I’ve experienced in the last few months and all the lives I’ve touched for the better, just to have my wife back. That is my selfish sin-nature, though. It shouldn’t be an “either / or”… God desires a “both / and” for us… so I feel that I have to get to the point where I’m seeking God for God and not for God to bring my wife back so that she can be my God again.

Meanwhile, I have to believe. I have to believe in his plan. I feel called to stick with this. I feel called to do what I am doing. Unfortunately, the alternative is to give up on God, and I’m not prepared to do that. My friend, Bill, had one of these candid conversations with God, and he received the word, “do you want to fulfill a need or the plan?” I may be able to deaden my pain a little by pursuing my flesh, but I’ve essentially said, God can’t do this. What else then can he not do? Heal a sick loved one? Protect my children from harm? God is either omnipotent, as the Word says, or he’s impotent. I think a lot depends on the box we put him in or don’t put him in.

Ignatius for Standers.

Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was a bit of a reformer but he worked from within the established Catholic Church, rather than splitting off. That’s the best I’ve got, as an Evangelical who knows nothing of the Catholic tradition. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Why am I talking about this dude? Well I’m giving his spiritual exercises a try in an attempt to draw closer to God and to be less focused on self and circumstances. How many times have we heard Charlyne Steinkamp yell, “Stop looking at your circumstances!”? Well it turns out that is really difficult to do.

The Spiritual Exercises are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God. For centuries the Exercises were most commonly given as a “long retreat” of about 30 days in solitude and silence (Ignatian Spirituality).

I am currently doing An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, an adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises, found at Ignatian Spirituality, rather than purchasing a book. The actual written content of each exercise is rather brief. The meat comes in my reflection, my meditation of the scripture, and the prayers I journal as I go. I am three days into this adventure and I have found these exercises to be ideally suited to the life of a stander. If you are standing, and you’re struggling to connect with God, as I am. If you feel like you need to add some depth to your devotional experience, I invite you to give these exercises a try with me.

You’ll need:

  • a Bible or two (I’m using an NIV, a Message, and my Bible app).
  • a Journal (any notebook will do)
  • Some good pens.
  • A quiet, “sacred space” to work in.

I like to have a cup of coffee as well, but that is not entirely necessary. There are some great tips on getting ready to do this “retreat” here. Oddly, each day I have found that the exercise has deepened and expanded my understanding of the theme and passages in Charlyne Cares. If you’re already doing that devotional, as I am, I think that you will find that it fits nicely into this time of prayer and reflection.

I’m sure that this work will inform the next few posts you find here. Meanwhile, I leave you with one of the passages I have been chewing on and praying through for the last three days.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

That, my fellow standers, is how God feels about us and our spouse despite what we may be seeing on the ground.

Change my heart… no, really.

Idolatry, patience, and idolatry… did i mention idolatry?

God’s timing is perfect. How many times do we standers hear that? We hear that almost as much as we hear that God wants to be first in our heart. It is true. God is a jealous god (Exodus 34:14).

So, how do I make God first? I nearly worshiped my wife when she was at home, and now that I’m standing and praying for her constantly it’s even worse. So here I am,

  • Reading the Word
  • Praying
  • Listening to the Word
  • Listening to Rejoice ministries podcasts
  • Fasting from all other media…

…every day. I feel like I’m in constant prayer. Still, so many of my prayers end up being about her.

Flipping out and feeling better…

So, today, I got in my car after work and started crying out to God… no, I was really crying out. I nearly went hoarse:

God, I want you to be first! I want you to be sufficient for me. I want to love you so much that I don’t need her! I want to desire you! I want to hunger for your word and meditate on your will! I want to be 110% sold out for you! I’m tired of feeling like my world is in gray-scale because she’s gone. I don’t know how to make my heart turn fully to you God. Help me! Help me! Change my heart! I want to be wholly yours! I don’t know how. Take this sickness from me!!! Help me want you more than I want her back!

So, yeah, I kind of flipped out like that for twenty or so minutes with a lot of tears and snot and stuff. Then I started to feel better. I still got a huge burden tonight to pray for my wife. I prayed some scriptures for her, then I played with my kids, fed them dinner, and I’m still feeling better. There was a moment when my almost-three-year-old daughter asked me to come up and rock her. She said she wanted to pray for mommy and that she missed her. I was a crying snotty mess again, but now that’s gone.

Maybe I’ll have to flip out like that once a day until my heart really falls in line. Either way, I want to put God first. I want to continue standing in the gap for my prodigal spouse. Squaring that circle moving forward shall be interesting…

Surrender is so hard…

Rhema or Insomnia?

Rhema or Insomnia?

God,

Help me today. I am struggling so much. My mood is as dark as this rain filled sky today, Lord. I know that my struggle is not against my spouse and this other man, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). I have no doubt about your power to restore my marriage. God, I know that you are able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work within me (Ephesians 3:20). I know you can restore my marriage, but I question whether you will. Oh, that you would speak to me clearly! Forgive my wasted years and hear this broken sinful man! Have mercy on me and hear my cry!

I am trying desperately to forget the former things; to not dwell on the past. I know that you are doing a new thing, but I do not perceive it (Isaiah 43:18-19). I know that you have plans for me, and you say that they are plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I am trying desperately to Be strong and courageous; to not be afraid or discouraged because of my circumstances, for there is a greater power with me than with those against me (2 Chronicles 32:7).

Help me, in Jesus name, help me to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and all these things will be given to me as well (Matthew 6:33). Help me to have faith enough in your good will, your perfect plan for me, and your timing to surrender totally to you. Open my eyes, Lord, so that I may see. Show me the hills full of horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). I know that if I make You my dwelling, my refuge, that no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near to my tent. For You will command Your angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways (Psalm 91:9-11). You heal the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds (Psalm 147:3), God, and I am brokenhearted! Hold me! Comfort me! Remind me again and again to Rejoice! Let my gentleness be evident to all. Remind me that You are near. Help me not to be anxious about anything, not my divorce, not my finances, not what my spouse is doing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present my requests to You. Fill me then with your peace, which transcends all understanding, and guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Allow me to put off thoughts of my wife, the other man, and my past and to meditate upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:4-8).

I know that you have said that I must have faith in You and whatever I ask for in prayer, I may believe that I have received it, and it will be mine (Mark 11:22, 24). Help me to rest in that promise today, Lord. There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against YOU (Proverbs 21:30). Help me to never be shaken, filling me with your righteousness. May I have no fear of bad news. May my heart be steadfast, trusting in YOU. Make my heart secure, having no fear, and in the end I will look in triumph on my foes (Psalm 112 6-8). Help me to see that you are not only mighty but also good and loving. Help me to believe that you really care about me and my marriage. May the scripture I received some nights ago, in the dark of the morning, ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:9), be a Rhema Word from you and not merely  the vain striving of a man driven mad with grief and desperation.

Once again, God, I come now boldly and freely into your presence, freely asking these things according to your will, sure that you’re listening, confident that what I’ve asked for is as good as mine. So, I pray for my beloved and ask that you give her life (1 John 5:13-16). Give her an undivided heart and put a new spirit in her; remove from her her heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh. Then she will follow Your decrees and be careful to keep Your laws. We will be your people, and You will be our God (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Lord, fill her with Godly sorrow that brings repentance, leads to salvation and leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Send her a personal Damascus road experience soon, God. I believe that nothing is too hard for you you. Forgive me of my sins and lead me to repentance so that I will be ready. Then, go and bring her home quickly, Lord!

Oh God, today I am indeed sowing with tears! Oh that I would reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5). God, help me to stand firm, knowing that this battle is yours (Exodus 14:12-14  & 2 Chronicles 20:16-18). Throw this mountain into the sea, God (Mark 11:23). I beg you for your blessed assurance today. You say in Luke, that you will freely give of your Holy Spirit, and I need it. Help me, Jesus, help me…

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

 

Communication questions…

smsWe live in a world of communication. We text. We tweet. We call. We post. I am a communicator. I am an extrovert. I need to talk about everything with everyone. Now I find myself in one of the most communication-barren places in my life. God does not text, tweet, or call. My spouse has separated and distanced herself from me. I must rely on other forms of communication in the most difficult trial of my life. What am I to do? Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers right now, but maybe this will minister to you nonetheless…

Standing Orders, Special Instructions, & Signs…

Thoughts on communicating with God.

mark10

standing orders

A Sunday or so ago at church, our Pastor talked about standing orders vs. special instructions. The basic gist is that God has given us his standing orders, the stuff we’re supposed to do all of the time without asking, in the Bible. If we’re doing those faithfully, then comes the special instructions. I mentioned yesterday that, I am only following the standing orders found in 1 Corinthians,  Malachi,  Mark, Luke, and so on. I have not received any special instructions. I don’t feel like God has promised me anything. I wish that he would would speak to me. I had a fellow stander tweet me recently that I would not believe all of the things he’s seen and heard directly from God regarding his stand. That’s awesome! Praise God! Right now, I’ll settle for a truck sighting. I know that I’m on the right path. I know that I’m doing God’s will. I’ve received blessing upon blessing and tons of affirmation that I am on the right path. Nonetheless, I would love to get any word at all that God intends to restore my marriage. I have this sneaking dread that I’m going to be called to a life of loneliness, pain, and celibacy. I’m trying to surrender that to him, but it scares me to death! I love my wife, and I hate being alone!

Maybe God is communicating with me. I did figure out the whole standing thing pretty quickly. I did find Rejoice Ministries in less than a month after my wife left home. I have been blessed financially. I did find Stephanie’s testimony. Often what I read or hear in devotionals and daily and weekly podcasts lines up perfectly with what my spouse is doing or saying or with what I’m going through. Is this coincidence or God speaking? I do know that my spouse seems very happy without me. She seems to be on top of the world and feeling no regret or conviction at all. The new Christian friends she’s surrounded herself with seem blind or indifferent to what is happening. From my limited view on this side of the mountain, everything looks very bleak. This holiday weekend was excruciating, and I cannot imagine the Summer, when I shall have tons of time to myself, often parenting alone. Oddly, this morning’s devotional from Charlyne, was about letting God wipe away your tears. Again, God hit me this morning right where I needed it.Here is the closing scripture from today’s devotional.

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:1-6)

I am continually comforted, cared for, and blessed. Why do I doubt? Why to I beg for a sign? How many have I missed? How many am I ignoring or dismissing? I pray that Charlyne is right that, “[I] will be weeping tears of joy at God’s perfect timing when the Lord brings [my] spouse back from the enemy’s prison camp” (Charlyne Steinkamp). I would love to have that promise confirmed, but I will continue to stand nonetheless. I long for the day when “everyone will be saying, Look at what the Lord has done for you, your beloved spouse and your family. To God be the glory!” (Charlyne Steinkamp).

Will my actions speak louder?

Thoughts on communicating with her.

What do I say to her? At church, we’ve been talking about forgiveness and how we need to take the first step in reconciling relationships. I fell at a loss as to what to say. My spouse knows where I stand. She knows I am not signing Divorce papers. She knows that I am here, hanging on. Is there anything else I should say to her? It seems like I am just to pray and stand and work on my walk.

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).

It’s hard for me to simply stand. I want to communicate with my mouth, but I feel that my actions must speak for me, which is much much harder when all of our interactions are awkward and often tense. I want to send cards and flowers and letters, but I find myself fighting those urges. I think all the flowers on earth will make little difference when I find myself being untruthful about little insignificant things just because I’m in fight or flight mode and my sin nature takes over. I feel like I spend every private moment in prayer and scripture. How can I still lie about whether or not I read a text message?

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15, 23-25)

Oh God, let me crucify this sinful nature so that I can communicate what I wish to communicate. In the name of Jesus, help me!

Pray for me friends. Pray for my wife. Pray for our kids. I’m praying for you. Tweet me if you want me to do so by name.

Faith, grief, complaining, & avoiding the wilderness.

questionReports… I live in a world of reports, bad and good. Mostly, they’re bad, but God is good. As mentioned in earlier posts, I’m really working on my countenance and my faith. I desire to walk in victory despite my circumstances. Just to give you some context, here is my reading & listening list from this last week:

Obviously, you don’t need to read all of that. I actually read and listened to a lot more, not to mention all of the scriptures I’ve been reading. Basically, I’ve been getting a few big ideas clearly out of my devotional diet this week:

  1. I need to stop feeling defeated and looking like I feel defeated.
  2. I need to have faith that God will work in my life.
  3. I need to stop complaining or dwelling on this elephant in the room or it will delay God’s work.
  4. I need to put God first and work on me.

This week, I’ve been trying to do that. I’ve had friends an colleagues comment that my mood seems lighter and that they see God’s work in me.

Last night, I got some bad reports from my kids. I had this sick feeling all evening, and I fought it. I prayed. I took thoughts captive. I asked for more faith. I repeated Mark 9:24 repeatedly. I assured God again and again that I could see him at work and that I trusted him.

After I had my kids settled in bed, I went out back to pray. I got on my knees, and I called God, “Daddy” for the first time in my life. Then, “I cried my guts out”. I can’t describe it any other way. I couldn’t breathe. The sobs came in heaves. I thought I was never going to stop. I realized later as I walked and talked with God, that this was a bubble of grief that burst to the surface. I wasn’t in disbelief. I was in pain! I needed comfort. So, I find myself with these questions:

  1. How much is it okay to mourn the rending of my one-flesh relationship?
  2. Does this count as complaining against God, as the Israelites did?
  3. Considering Isaiah 43:19, should I suck it up and smile?
  4. Does God get tired of hearing my cries and comforting me in my pain?

I know that God is described as my heavenly Father, a relationship I have long struggled to understand because of my own childhood. I am a dad, now, and I do not tire of comforting my children.

This morning, I read about Elisha and his servant’s encounter with the King of Aram’s army, in Charlyne Cares.

…Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

I know that He is with me. I know he has surrounded my family and I with his angel armies. I know that He is at work. I still hurt. How much is it okay to hurt?

Praying the scriptures: How one stander faces the day.

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Some Rights Reserved by Adelle & Justin

Last time, I talked about praying the scriptures for my prodigal spouse. I promised that I would follow up with scriptures I pray for myself and fellow standers.

Here are the scriptures that I am praying for myself before I even leave the covers in the morning. Actually, I need this prayer to get me out of the covers most mornings these days.

Good morning lord,

 
Help me today, in Jesus name. May I trust in you with all of my heart today and lean not on my own understanding, for I do not understand what is happening in this spiritual battle. Help me, in all of my ways, to submit to You, and You will make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 
Lord, I do not even want to get out of bed this morning. Help me to be strong in YOU and in Your mighty power. Prepare me for today as I put on the full armor of God, so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. Remind me in each moment of doubt and insecurity that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Help me, Jesus. Help me to stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. May I take up the shield of faith, with which I can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. My faith is weak right now, Lord. Strengthen it for the day! Thank you for the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is Your word. Help me to practice your presence today, praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. May I be alert and always keep on praying for my family, my prodigal spouse, my fellow standers, and all of your saints (Ephesians 6:10-12, 14-18).

 
Remind me throughout the day to not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then I will be able to test and approve what Your will is—your good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

 
Finally, God, may I remember to rejoice in You always. Remind me again and again: Rejoice! Let my gentleness be evident to all. Remind me that You are near. Help me not to be anxious about anything, not my divorce, not my finances, not my circumstances, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present my requests to You. Fill me then with your peace, which transcends all understanding, and guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. Allow me to put off thoughts of my spouse and my past and to meditate upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:4-8).

 
In Jesus Name,
Amen

Hopefully this prayer helps you as it is helping me. I’ve never prayed the scriptures before this happened. Now I will never quit. Praise God that his word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

The crazy ones…

This is Crazy!!

ingodI am crazy. I have decided to wait on God. I have decided to take Him at His Word. That is just plain crazy, and it is looking more insane by the day. When I tell people that I have decided to stand in the gap and pray for my wife, pray for the restoration of our marriage, and pray that God is glorified through this trial, most of them say, “good for you.” The look on their face, however, says, that is sad. The poor guy. He can’t let go. He’s going to lose his mind. Sometimes they just tell me I’m nuts. Don’t get me wrong, when I speak with those whom I trust, admire, and respect in the Lord, they are quick to say, “you are doing the right thing, and you are not crazy.” A friend and colleague blessed me yesterday by stopping by and sharing her trials. Her and her husband have been trying for quite some time to have children. God has called them to wait on him and not trust in IVF or the world’s solutions. She too is being told she is crazy. We are both crazy, or obedient… depending on your point of view. Either way, pray for both of us. We need it!

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)

It’s about time…

I have decided that it’s about time I looked a little crazy. I’ve spent far too much time worrying about appearances, and making light of my relationship with God. Now, here I stand, amidst the shards of a broken marriage, trying to survive and care for my children. Yesterday, I asked God to take my “cool” out back and slaughter it. I asked him to take my last remnants of pride, distance, and materialism and dash them against the rocks. I’m no longer asking him to bring my wife back. I’m asking him to restore my marriage and set it ablaze for him. I want my marriage to be restored, but God wants the glory. I have heard Him, and I will obey.

Meanwhile, I am praying Psalm 119:10-22 for myself. I am also remembering the words of Jesus, in Matthew 5:38-48, as I prepare my heart for my wife’s actions in the coming months. If she wants to sue me and take my shirt, am I ready to hand over my coat as well? How crazy am I? How crazy am I prepared to be? If Jesus is my role model, and I am called to move forward with humility, purpose and selflessness, understanding that there will be suffering, then this is what I must do.

Resources that sustain me in my insanity…

Then the Lord will create over [you]…a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:5-6)

I have found resources to sustain me. I have His Word, first and foremost. I have it on my phone. I have a paper bible. I have it online. It’s everywhere, and readily available. I have prayer. I have my good friends and mentors. I have found , Standing Firm, a weekly devotional for men standing for their wives, and I have found Fight for your marriage, a weekly podcast for all standers. If you have any other resources you would like to recommend, comment below.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

#standthegap friends. Aslan is on the move.