trust

Contentment & Zombies

So, here I am. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and I’m wondering, “have I been ghosted by yet another one?” Maybe I have. Maybe I haven’t. If I have, the only thing I can chalk this one up to is divine intervention. We were getting along great, like day before yesterday. Yesterday, she had to cancel a date. No big deal. I was totally okay with that. Then suddenly, silence has ensued for almost 48 hours. She’s read my messages. No response.

Cartoon-Zombie-300pxWhy does this upset me? I am not content. I know that we are to be content in Christ. I know that I need to love God first and delight myself in Him. My heart is sick with discontentment. I long more than anything for someone to hold and love and cherish. I hate my life so much that I often express the ultimate discontentment to God by asking why he hasn’t killed me.

I am not suicidal. My dad did that. I won’t ever do that to my kids… ever. I just sometimes wonder why God would have kept me alive through all of this while so many people around me who had good lives and were doing good works for Him have died. Seriously, If I had gotten terminal cancer three years ago,

  1. My wife would have been able to find someone new with a clean conscience and without sinning.
  2. My children would not be in the middle of a giant custody tug-of-war that didn’t end when the legal agreement was signed.
  3. I would be with God and wouldn’t have experienced any of this ongoing pain, frustration, heartache, and discontentment.

I just keep telling myself that God must have some purpose for me. There must be some plan. What does He want from me? What am I supposed to do? Why am I still here. For some time after my wife left, I had a vibrant walk with God, where he used me daily. Some of the highlights include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Helping an old lady, named Madeline, wandering along the side of the road on a cold winter evening.
  • Helping someone with car trouble in the Library parking lot.
  • Regularly ministering to a friend whose wife had died of brain cancer (again, a woman who was by all accounts worthy of sainthood).
  • Helping a lost and confused elderly gentleman, whom I ran into at the pizza shop, find his way home.
  • Meeting, ministering to, and praying for of a retired kick boxer from Puerto Rico in a part of town I would never normally have been in.

Lately, though, I’ve been moving through life like the walking dead. For the last six months, despite practicing the presence throughout the day, surrendering myself to Him daily, regularly crying out to know His will, and often asking to be put in the right place at the right time to do His work, I have been living a half-life.

My prodigal spouse has officially moved on. She introduced her NCP as, “my husband”, at a recent viewing I attended. I felt the last hope for our marriage die inside of me, and at the same time I did feel a renewed sense of life. I felt that, “now I can escape this liminal existence!”

The presence of a new woman in my life (she texted me back, by the way 🙂 Yay!), while very pleasant, does not bring contentment. Only God brings contentment. I am trying to learn contentment. So, today, I cried out to Him a lot. I asked the Holy Spirit to Comfort me, to lead me and guide me, and to teach me contentment.

So, now, even though I don’t feel like it, I will praise Him.

Psalm 29
A psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c]
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 

7 out of 18 ain’t bad… well it is bad…

I recently re-read Bob Stienkamp’s devotional entitled “18 Signs that something is happening“. Turns out, I’m currently rocking seven out of 18 to some degree or another. That should be encouraging or uplifting, but it’s not. In fact, I’ve felt like it’s been 11:59 for about two months now, and I’m really starting to run backwards, rather than even crawl forwards.7out18

You feel like giving up. The enemy will make you think nothing is happening and nothing will ever change.

I am certainly here. More than any of these other signs, this one is manifesting itself powerfully in my life. I feel like my hopes and dreams for a better future have shriveled up and died inside me and my heart is becoming harder and more cold and lifeless each day. I am still standing, but it’s like a routine. I’m going through the motions, but on the inside I have retired. I’ve stopped praying for miracles and have started to simply plead for relief from the daily onslaught of fresh attacks. I know that as Christians we have the freedom that comes with not having to fear death, but I fear life. I fear loneliness. I fear years of perpetual pain, rejection, and isolation. I haven’t even seen a Covenant truck in months. I feel like its just over for me, like I missed some turn I was supposed to take and I’ll never leave this valley. So I just need to find a half decent place to settle down here, while my Shepard steps out to tend the rest of the flock.

People are constantly reminding you about your mate’s free will and how you have grounds for divorce.

As my prodigal finds new ways to attack me every month, legally, financially, and through custody challenges, my friends not only remind me that I can sign the divorce paper any day, but also that I can counter sue for fault divorce. After all, they say, she left you for another man, and now she is taking you to the cleaners. After all, I am the wronged party. They want to know why I am continuing to allow her to have the upper hand.

People tell you God wants you to be “happy.” In truth, God is a lot more concerned about your holiness than He is about your happiness. He also cares about your mate’s lost condition.

Everyone has someone for me. They’re sick of watching the slow train wreck that is my life without doing anything to improve my circumstances. I am desperately lonely and worse I have a strong spirit of rejection hanging from my neck like a leech. I don’t want a mate near as much as I want someone to want me, to like me, or just to not hate me and treat me like dirt. My own rebellious heart is telling me that God wants you to be “happy”, during my better moments. During my worse moments, it tells me that God wants me to be “miserable,” so I can be more like Christ, and I despise Him for it.

You can see no way out of specific circumstances, such as financial problems. Remember, God works best when nothing else will.

I’m literally being destroyed. My prodigal is making sure that I am financially beaten down in every way. I can no longer see a means out of the hole that I am in, other than a miracle of God. At one point, I was standing for restoration. I was standing for my wife’s soul. I was standing for the family of our children. I was standing for the Glory of God’s name. Now I’m standing for survival. I’m standing because when it’s all said and done I want to know: Does obedience really bring blessing, or is His Word as fallible as everyone says it is? Is He omnipotent or impotent? I have no other hope left. If God isn’t who He says He is, then I am doomed to a life of poverty and loneliness.

You are tempted to take off your wedding ring.

This is happening a lot more lately… Okay, it’s happening every day. I feel like Frodo, buckling under the weight of it. I cannot stand up under any more legal fees. I do not understand why my wife, my helpmate for so many years wants to destroy me so badly. She left me for another, and I am suffering the consequences. I cannot face this vast army. I no longer have the mental, emotional, or financial capacity to defend myself. If God does not show up now in a big way, I will be financially ruined. I’m not sure I will have a place to live next month. So, do I feel a great desire to proclaim my devotion to a covenant with someone who wants to destroy me? My human nature wants to fight back. My flesh wants to run into the arms of anyone who will love me and tell me it will be okay. I shouldn’t need a woman for that, but my comforter is apparently on vacation this year. So, I find myself wanting to pocket this ring every time I find myself in a room containing available females who might make me feel like a person if they came up and spoke to me.

You mistakenly start to view your local church as a hindrance to restoration. Satan may give you fear over how your returned prodigal would fit in. Your pastor may come out against marriage restoration. The returned spouse and their church relationship is one of the many areas that God can and does heal for restoring families. Right now, you need the love and support of a church family.

Since I began my stand, despite support from my head pastor, my spiritual director, and most of those closest to me, I have at times seen my church as an apostate, seeker sensitive Sunday Show, serving up cool aid Christianity to the myriad adulterous couples seated around me. My spouse said she never felt connected or accepted there when she left me. I have visited the local AOG church in hopes of finding more “spirit filled” believers. I have made friends at a local Mennonite church in hopes of finding a smaller, closer community of believers, but my church is my church. If I cut ties with that community, what do I have left?

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat was able to proclaim a fast for all of Judah. I do not have Judah. I have my church. I have my friends to call on. In a lot of ways, I have found that my church, the body of Christ for me is actually my immediate circle of brothers, mostly from my church, but some not, who hold me up, support me, keep me accountable, and love me through listening and helping with the mundane tasks of my life.

Prayer partners may be removed. There came a time in Charlyne’s stand, near the day of our remarriage and before the Internet, when my wife’s personal prayer partner moved out-of-state. God was telling my wife that she needed to depend on Him, not others.

Everyone has a life, and it seems like everyone’s life has them right now. My strongest prayer partners will stand with me for a season and be removed by tragedy, other interests, bouts with depression, and even trials and temptations. It seems I am constantly reaching out to someone new to stand with me and relying on people from many different parts of my life. Prayer partners burn out. Honestly, I feel like a lot of folks are still praying for me, but many have stopped praying for my prodigal. Despite supporting my stand, they’ve given up on her. Many of them say to “give her over”. They don’t realize that despite the hurt and the pain and daily attacks coming in from her, saying, “give her over” is like telling the spouse of someone with cancer to “just shoot her and put her out of her misery.” They mean well, but… “give her over to her sin and let Satan have her?”

You are tempted to make major changes in your own life. It could be reclaiming your maiden name or changing the door locks on your home for no reason. Whatever you are considering doing, it would say to your prodigal spouse, “It’s over!”

In some ways, I don’t have a choice. I have to move. I have to give up our marital home because I cannot afford to buy my prodigal spouse out of it.

Honestly, I’m ready to sign. I know that is a choice. I’m tired of being hurt with something new every week. Despite what I said above, I’m a little bit ready to “give her over”. I am such a contrary mess. What it all comes down to, is in my selfishness, I want a companion. I want a partner to hold me and tell me it is going to be okay. I want to be loved not hurt. I want to be wanted not hated and despised. I want to be valued and cherished and desired.

You sense a certain uneasiness in your spirit. Where you had once started growing in the Lord as a stander, you now feel something indescribable in your life. Some people confuse God wanting them to intensify their stand with Him, with God wanting them to give up on their stand for a healed home.

How about, I feel spiritually dead. I know that God brings growth and wisdom through pain and suffering. I know that he is looking for my complete surrender. At some point though pruning turns into cutting and eventually destroying. I’ve experienced so much growth over this last year and now it’s turned 180°. Now rather than growing me the pain is killing me. Each day for the last month I’ve become a more hardhearted rebellious and despicable person.

Is that an uneasiness in spirit? I hate my life, and I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’m tired of proclaiming His greatness when He wont be my genie and give me what I want!

I’d like to stop at seven…

I don’t think I can take any more. Honestly, I could totally go for:

Satan sends a counterfeit into your life. Just when things are the bleakest, Mr. Right or Miss Perfect arrives. Some standers make the mistake of thinking, “This must be of God because we are so perfectly suited for each other.” Counterfeits always look better than the real thing.

Of course, that won’t be the card I’ll pull. I’m not even going to say out loud the one that would destroy me. Everything else I’ve ever told God I could never take He has done to me in the space of a year and a half. I really don’t need any more. I can barely convince myself that getting out of bed in the morning is a good idea. Honestly, I cry out to God every morning to give me the strength to get up and face the day because I don’t want to do it any more.

The 11th hour…

I know that His timing is perfect and He’s known for coming in the 11th hour and changing everything in an instant. Well, it feels like 11:59 for me. Something has to give before I do.

Pray for me.

The supernatural, the mundane, and relational strain

The supernatural…

508302228_ae37586ce9_b

Some rights reserved by hickory hardscrabble

My relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know this is common to man in general, but the last month or so has been a doozy. I told God that I need restoration soon or some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. I have to trust that there is some purpose to this mess and that it is not just random pointless pain and suffering at the whims of Satan and his minions, entirely out of God’s control to stop. I have to believe that He cares. I have to believe that he is at work. The truth is, I’m starting to hate myself, so I really need to know that He loves me… I really need to know that, even if I’m not sure that I really love Him… The thing is, that we’re commanded to love him. Further, a friend recently had me watch this brief talk by Brennan Manning, where he espouses the need to believe that God, in fact, loves us. Honestly, I want to believe that. I know it, intellectually, but I just don’t believe it. Manning points out that this is likely a function of my gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred, and despair, which in the context of my circumstances is understandable.

So, my regular readers will know that I struggle a lot with this whole Baptism of the Holy Spirit / Gifts of the Spirit thing, often wondering if I am missing something in my faith and my walk. Perhaps I listen to too much Derek Prince and Jim Cymbala. The problem is, I keep hearing preacher after preacher and scholar after scholar, men for whom I have great respect, say that this is for every believer and that God will freely give it.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

So does the fact that I’m not “filled with the Holy Spirit”, as in I’m not displaying the overflow in any manifestations of the spiritual whatsoever a sign that…

  • I am not really a child of God?
  • I am deficient in some serious way?
  • I am in the midst of some sever disobedience that is blocking the Spirit’s work?
  • my life is still under a curse that is blocking me from receiving the blessing?
  • this is not true, not really Biblical or has somehow been grossly misinterpreted?

The mundane…

Honestly, God shows up in my life a lot. An old friend bought tires for my car recently. I find myself put in numerous situations to extend the love of Christ, from my many chance encounters at Walmart to old ladies along the road to broken down cars in the library parking lot. I constantly have opportunity to share and I receive the most astonishing reactions. A friend and mentor of mine pointed out recently that perhaps I am missing the fact that I am more likely to experience God in the “mundane” than in the “supernatural”. Okay, I get that. I understand that most of my life is made up of the mundane. Yet, I am supposed to live and walk in the spirit, to keep my eyes on the things above, and to live according to the Spirit. Further, I am supposed to be serving a dead-raising, sun-stopping, sea-parting, multitude-feeding, heart-softening, never-changing God. If He doesn’t change, then, presumably, He’s still working through supernatural power today, just as he was in the Bible.

When I focus on the mundane, on that which I perceive through my senses, then all I have is the flesh. The mundane is my court-appointed co-parenting workshop, whose underlying message or theme, which can be summed up in the following statements, two of which were overtly stated and the others frequently implied.

  • Your spouse is never coming back.
  • Emotionally mature people grieve the loss and get someone new.
  • You need to detach from your spouse as quickly as possible because they’re never coming back.
  • Divorce can be very positive if you would just accept it and move on.
  • This is no one’s fault and is very normal.

In the mundane, I feel totally beaten down, rejected, and unworthy. I desperately need the supernatural. That’s why I am here, in the sheepfold. I didn’t sign up for this gig to have friendly folks to hang out with on a Sunday morning.

I can’t seem to get my eyes off of the mundane, lately. There was a time, when this all started, that I could see the big picture from God’s perspective. In October, I was providing encouragement, embracing the radical nature of my stand, and focusing past my discomfort. Now, I feel lonely, tired, rejected, lonely, attacked, abandoned, and lonely. Did I mention lonely? Further, thanks to this dry spell in terms of the Spirit, or the supernatural if you will, I feel not only rejected by my spouse but also by the God of the universe. I begin questioning whether or not I am destined to be used for the purposes of God by simply being a tragic footnote in the pages of history, like Esau or Jonah… someone who should be after God’s heart but is just missing it in some profound way.

In the mundane, I’m starting to loathe and fear the woman my wife has become. This person I’m standing for, out of obedience to God and love for her, is beginning to become a stumbling block to my daily walk. As I receive more and more attacks and the attorney fees mound beyond what I can hope to pay, I have to expend more and more emotional and spiritual energy every day, on my knees before God, praying for help to forgive, to love, and to cherish. Every event for our children becomes an additional turn of the screw as my prodigal spouse tries to push me further out of their lives. My spirit cries out in excruciating pain when I see the OM embrace our children as though they were his, when they tell me that mommy said they could call him “daddy”, and when I see my whole extended family sitting with them while I sit off somewhere else on my own.

The bottom line is, if God doesn’t show up in the supernatural soon and I am left with only the mundane to sustain me, then I cannot stand. I cannot do this in the flesh. This is not possible in the mundane. A friend of mine often says that the enemy wants us dead, insane, or incarcerated, and I can see those as viable possibilities in the life of a stander without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Let’s be honest, do this is not natural, and it certainly is not mundane.

Relationship strain

So, as I said earlier, my relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know that I need to navigate this valley in obedience to Him, open to what He is trying to teach me. I know He is with me. I know that He loves me and wants the “best” for me. I “know” these things, but left to the mundane, it is difficult to feel these truths through the pain, struggle, and exhaustion of daily life. Maintaining a long obedience through this valley in the absence of supernatural strength and the promised “peace that passes understanding“, is tiring to say the least.

I find myself walking through the store, looking at every woman in my age range, not wearing a wedding ring and thinking, “Father, why am I doing this for a woman who has rejected me?” On the weekend when my whole family is with the other man, and I have no one, I find myself alone and often end up turning to an online game for community… I have struggled with this… a lot. I have deleted this game three or four times and repented of even liking it. I have given it up, reinstalled it, and gone whole weekends doing nothing else. I feel like a failure and a fake. I feel like I’m supposed to be stronger than this. I feel like I was never a real Christ follower to begin with.

If I really loved and trusted my Lord, I wouldn’t be so caught up in what I lack, paralyzed by the fear of my “lonely” future, or so self-focused in general. I wouldn’t be upset that I haven’t seen a covenant truck in two months. I want to be focused, serving, obedient, and serene, like Paul was, but I feel like this valley is causing me to regress rather than grow. I just want to throw a childish temper tantrum at the foot of the cross. There’s a ridiculous image for you. I know that this distance and this strain is my fault, but I don’t know how to get beyond it without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Simply pulling myself up by my bootstraps isn’t working.

Somebody pray for me.

Expectations, Walmart, and The God of the Universe

I arrived home this evening from work, and I was immediately struggling. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and obedience. I did not want to be struggling, and I did not want to give in. So, presently, I decided to “move”. I have found that if I stay in one place when struggling, I’ll continue to struggle until I fail in some profound way, sometimes even lashing out at God. I called a friend, and he invited me to a bar to play pool. I turned him down. I’m convinced that a bar, even with Christian friends is no place for a stander.

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

I decided to do one of my least favorite activities and go to Walmart. It has been a year since my wife left me to live with her non-covenant partner. So, when I have my kids on Resurrection Sunday, I will not be invited to the in-laws, two minutes down the road, because they have chosen to stand against my stand and side with the adulterous relationship. The result, is that we will not have Easter with Nana and Popop, as usual… Instead, a loving and generous colleague from my place of work and her husband has invited us for dinner. She even sewed pillows for our kids and is making them Easter baskets. Incidentally, I am responsible for crackers and cheese as well as stuffing some eggs. Ergo, off to Walmart.

I hate Walmart… I have nothing against the store itself these days. I hate being in Walmart, seeing couples and families shopping, knowing I am coming home to an empty house. I hate the fact that I used to complain about going to Walmart with my wife. I would like to go back in time and punch myself in the face for that. So, here I am, in Walmart, and I’m struggling still. I’m not getting along with the Holy Spirit particularly well. It has been a year. I have stood. I have prayed. I have fasted from food, media, secular music, and numerous other things. I’ve given up playing video games in obedience. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. Countless friends have prayed and had their friends pray and had their churches pray, and my wife still cannot see beyond that demonic squid on her face. I still love my wife. I still want our family healed. I want to be restored because I don’t want to see her live in sin and rebellion, but honestly, I am not feeling a lot of warm fuzzies for her right now. In fact, I was struggling a few moments in Walmart with the thought of taking my ring off. I never struggle with that. Tonight, I did. I just wanted someone to look at me like I am interesting or worthy of affection. I know that is ridiculous, but there it is.

Standing in the shoe section, picking out some shoes for my daughter, I said under my breath, “No! I am standing! Father, forgive me. Father help me get through this.” That was my expectation. I wanted to survive my trip to the store. Lately, when entering any store, I ask God to put me in “the right place at the right time” and to use me. I did no such thing tonight. I simply wanted to survive until I could become unconscious at home.

Well, God got me through. I finished my shopping. I got in line, and I did not begin to freak out like I normally do in line. There’s a stillness, waiting in line at Walmart. No one is talking to you. You can try to fidget with your phone or look around, but the fact is you are stuck there, with nothing to occupy your mind, facing whatever reality you have found yourself in. I hate going to Walmart, but I despise standing in line there thinking about the life I am living presently… So I pray… Practicing the presence keeps the demons away. I had chosen a line with a tall kid in his early twenties. He looked unhappy. I thought, that’s my line. I don’t know why I thought this… It just was there. When it was my turn, I broke protocol by preempting the his hello with, “how are you?” I don’t know why I said this. I didn’t particularly care how he was at the moment.

He said, “well, I am alive and breathing, so I suppose that that beats the alternative..”

I, being so self-absorbed in my pity party, cleverly responded with, “Well, that is debatable. I often think I would quite prefer the alternative.”

“Well”, he said, “I’m not so sure. I’d like to think there might be something on the other side, but I really have no idea.”

At this point, I am screaming at God, on the inside. Father, I’m not ready for this!! I didn’t ask to be used tonight! How on earth did I fall into a conversation about this cashier’s eternal life??? What are you doing, God? I feel like a bumbling idiot here! On the outside, I am fumbling desperately with a response. While sliding my card in the kiosk, I pick the conversation back up with, “well I know that there is something in store for me that beats the heck out of my current circumstances.”

“Well”, he said, “That sounds promising, but if there isn’t, though, I’m okay with that. That will be 64 dollars and 98 cents.”

So, I left. I apologized to God profusely for doing such an insanely poor job of representing Him. I asked the Holy Spirit to intervene and work on that man despite my poor performance. I put my groceries in the trunk of my car and went around to the front seat. There, on top of my prayer journal were two tickets to the local Assembly of God Church’s Easter service. This was one of those moments when there was no point in arguing. Sometimes the Spirit speaks to your heart. Sometimes, though, it just gives your heart that look… that look that says, you know what to do, and if you make me spell it out I’m gonna slap you. So back in, I went, tickets in hand. He was very busy with other customers, but he turned my direction as I walked up. I said nothing profound or clever. I simply handed him the tickets and said, “These, sir, are for you.” I turned and walked out. I am no evangelist, but I am trusting that the Holy Spirit can work even in the context of my ineptitude.

So, once again, God exceeded my expectations. He used me despite of myself, and I left Walmart crying and feeling awestruck, foolish, and overwhelmed with His mercy, grace and goodness.

Love, Obedience, and being tired…

Thoughts from a recent conversation

*I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

I am tired of having an adversarial relationship with my wife, tired of feeling like I’m losing everything important to me, tired of feeling like I’m as much a failure as a parent as I am as a husband, and tired of failing to hit the mark so often. Heck, I don’t even want to face the day anymore… I live in dread of the next text or email. I want off of this train, but where would I go? I worry that God won’t restore me or kill me and I’ll just have to keep going. Living out our faith definitely seems harder than dying for it. Still, I will serve Him and trust him. I will trust that He is a loving father and not some twisted sadist, enjoying chips and dip while our tragic lives play out.

I have to trust that there is some purpose to this mess and that it is not just random pointless pain and suffering at the whims of Satan and his minions, entirely out of God’s control to stop. I have to believe that He cares. I have to believe that he is at work. If I don’t, I’ll snap. I’ll utterly lose all touch with humanity. I need God. I need Him to hold me together. I could use some serious prayers to stay out of the slough of despond. I spend far too much time lately looking like a hapless victim to everyone. That’s not a good witness to anyone. The truth is, I’m starting to hate myself, so I really need to know that He loves me… I really need to know that, even if I’m not sure that I really love Him… The thing is, that we’re commanded to love him.

I’m trying to love Him… I’m not sure I ever did… I obey Him, and I try to serve Him, and I talk to Him almost every moment I can spare part or most of my brain to do so. I read His word. I listen to sermons almost non-stop… I don’t sing though… I haven’t really felt like praising Him since my wife left. Am I holding a grudge against God? Am I holding my praises hostage? I don’t know… the praising, loving part of me just feels dead… like a lump of cold clay. I refuse to give up on my God, and I cry out to Him every day… I just feel guilty for not feeling any love for Him…

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:4-5).

I know that God has this… I know that He is in control… I just wish I felt it. I trust Him. I wait upon Him. I cry out to Him, but do I love Him? A fellow stander recently expressed what many of us have been feeling inside, “I miss feeling.. important… special…. noticed…” That got me wondering if that’s how God feels about me. I wonder if that’s why this is all happening. I wish I could make my heart love Him, but I worry that want to love Him just so he will end this pain and heal my family. I’m questioning everything… I am not willing to turn on God for a moment, but maybe that’s only because I know the other team loses in a big way. Is that love, or is it totally selfish and self-serving self-preservation?

Likely, though, loving God has very little to do with warm fuzzies. It probably has a lot more to do with trust and obedience… mainly obedience… So, I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

* These are thoughts removed and cleaned up from a conversation I had recently with some fellow standers with whom I have found community. In looking back over the conversation, I realized that others may benefit from being included in this conversation. So, I posted it here. This is also an explanation of why I have been so silent lately…

Survival Supplies

Here’s the stuff that I have been consuming to help me survive this week. Enjoy:

Sermons etc.

Scriptures

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Psalm 91 (emphasis added)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Encouragement for the hurting Stander

Are you literally sick of life?

Do you practically hate everything?

Are you sick of crying your eyes out?

Burned out on prayer and seeking God?

Buck up, Cupcake?

bootstrappyNo, this is not going to be a shallow, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, Romans 8:28 pep rally. You are hurting. I know that I can tell you that God keeps His promises. I can tell you that Christ paid the ultimate price so that you you will not ever have a “Gethsemane”. I can even talk to you about how loved you really are by the God of the universe. I know that none of that matters right now. You are hurting. Like me, you probably go from being encouraged by great testimonies of marriage restoration, to being devastated and depressed by stories of long dismal unresolved stands. Sometimes, even restoration stories are frankly disheartening at best. Dennis Wingfield, for example probably wouldn’t trade his testimony for anything, but I find it to be the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

You are lonely. You have been rejected by your one-flesh partner. The person you have been the most vulnerable with in the whole world is playing house with someone else, and often acting like God is okay with that. You may even be questioning whether or not God is okay with that. After all, He sure isn’t doing a darn thing about it! Maybe you have had enough “false hope” moments to know God doesn’t always come through.

Be Encouraged… no really.

Okay, maybe He won’t come through. Maybe your spouse’s heart his becoming harder and harder. Maybe. I do know a few things that may encourage you, though.

First, God is NOT okay with this. God definitely does not condone everything He tolerates. Your one-flesh partner is on the highway to hell, but be encouraged. You are not, and you can pray. Pray your lonely, rejected, broken little behind off for your spouse because he or she needs it. There’s no such thing as “fire insurance” Christianity. Even casual, lukewarm Christians make God want to vomit. Imagine how He must feel about those who profess his name and live in abject rebellion to His teaching? Your spouse may not “want” you right now, but he or she “needs” you. If you haven’t organized an elite strike force of prayer warriors to stand in the gap for your spouse’s soul, maybe you should work on that. That’ll give you something to occupy your mind to push out the thoughts of that non-covenant partner who is snuggling with your children like they helped bring them into the world.

…do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:4-11)

Second, you are ultimately responsible for you. Seriously, it may not be the most encouraging thought on the surface that someday “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). I don’t know about you, but that scares the crap out of me. It is good to develop a healthy fear of the Lord. I was talking about this on GHO one night with my friend and fellow stander, Ben. Ben noted that his mom used to say that “God is your friend but He is not your pal”. Someday, we’re all going to stand before God… okay, I really don’t see myself standing unless supernaturally held up. Honestly, I think I’ll be face down before Him, shaking uncontrollably, kneeling in a puddle of my own urine. Put yourself in that spot. At that point, will it matter whether your spouse ever came home or not? No. All that will matter is how faithful you were to whatever God called you to do in the circumstances you found yourself in. Imagine how shallow and pathetic our own words would sound when we say, “but, Lord, I just wanted to be happy… I thought I deserved to be happy.”

Your life has epic meaning…

No really. This one is a little deep, but stay with me on this one. You have been chosen for a special mission of great significance that will save the lives of many others. No, this is not a fantasy novel or an MMORPG. This is what you signed up for when you crossed the line of faith. You want to be a Christian? Welcome to the war. By the way, now that the enemy has attacked your marriage, you can choose to be among the elite who will actually fight, or you can join the other side. It all depends on where your treasure is. This won’t help you most days, particularly when you’re feeling very alone, but there are times, driving in your car when this will hit you… when you think about someday hearing “well done, good and faithful servant”, that this will carry you to new heights that you never thought imaginable.

Now, tame that tongue… and put it to work.

I am tired. I am physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. I am spent. I am struggling to forgive the other man. I’m even struggling to be near him without fantasies of physically harming him consuming my thoughts. I have to see him regularly, now, holding hands with my wife and touching my children. I am flooded with legal, financial, and relational circumstances. Amidst this daunting context, I am frequently asked, “How is it going?” or “How is everything?” How tempting it is to just unload on whoever asks that question. After all, it’s therapeutic to get it off my chest right? WRONG!

Even if you’ve taken no encouragement from this post… Even if you forget everything I’ve said so far, remember this one thing: Our words have power… so much power. Honestly, I thought my friend Bill was a little over-the-top-happy-feel-good when he first said this to me, but the more I read the Bible… the more I learn about the Power of our words, the more I realize this is true. It is not pop-psychology. It is not foolish optimism. It is power. Speak life over everything. This is a war… a serious serious battle. We are fighting for our lives, our very souls, and those of our spouse… Our mouth holds the Power to give life and fight off the enemy, through praise, proclamation, and scripture… speaking the Word. Let’s use it that way! Are you testifying to God’s glory or His impotence and Satan’s power? What is your mouth doing to you? What is the picture you are giving others of your Lord?

I have come to realize that my enemy’s #1 form of attack is to get me to focus on my circumstances and his #1 weapon is my own mouth… I constantly catch myself giving bad reports to those who ask what is happening and I have to go shut myself in my office and repent, proclaim some imprecatory Psalms, and go try to do better in my next conversation… A fellow stander of mine recently noted that when she opened her mouth with negativity, she was also helping hand over valuable strategic intelligence to the enemy camp.

I really started to see that I was giving Satan step by step instructions on how to hurt me. One day I said- no more! No matter how afraid I am sometimes, I will not give him any power over me. It has made a big difference in my life and my stand (C).

We need to commit to overcoming the enemy with the word of our testimony. We need to commit to making our mouth work for us. I have found that the best thing I can do in bed in the morning when I wake, in bed in the evening before I sleep, in the car, and anytime I’m alone is to proclaim the Word of God. I learned the power of proclamation from Derek Prince, and so far I have to say that he is right on.

So, I leave you with some verses to proclaim today. Please add your own in the comments. I need more.

25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze,

and your strength will equal your days.

26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,

who rides across the heavens to help you

and on the clouds in his majesty.

27 The eternal God is your refuge,

and underneath are the everlasting arms.

He will drive out your enemies before you,

saying, ‘Destroy them!’ (Deuteronomy 33 25-27)

7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. (Deuteronomy 28:7)

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

33 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’ (Ezekiel 36:33-36)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. If God is for us, who can be against us? 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,[k] 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 8:28, 31b, 37-39)

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. (Isaiah 45:2 NIV)

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14 NIV)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10, 11 NIV)

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18 NIV)

no weapon forged against you will prevail,

and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and this is their vindication from me,”

declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)

Radical Extremists are not P.C.

Some rights reserved by Jordon

Some rights reserved by Jordon

Sometimes I can’t even believe what I’m saying to people… I’m normally very reserved about this stuff, and I’ve always been leery of those crazy snake-handling charismatic types, but… well, I’ve decided the Bible is either true or it isn’t.

Jesus was pretty radical. Seriously, you don’t become the enemy of the entire religious establishment of your own people by being politically correct. Jesus was a religious extremist. He said crazy things, like.

9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (Matthew 18:9)

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

Standing is turning me into a radical extremist. Where once I used to be, pretty PC, an NPR-listening yuppie hipster, and generally laid back, I am now understanding that there is such a thing as truth, it is not relative, and the Bible does not make suggestions.

The Seeker Friendly Movement, Cheap Grace, and The Truth

Many churches, mine included, are trying desperately to reach as many lost and hurting people as possible and to be a light in the community.The danger, here, is that it is very easy to slide down a slope from acceptance, lack of judgement, and grace extended to non-believers to a place where your congregation of believers are not expected to live any different as Christ followers than they did when they were not.

Are we not going to fail and sin, even as Christians? Yes, of course we are. Will we not still receive Gods’ grace? Of course! We just have to be careful not to cheapen His grace by saying, “I know that this is sin, but it makes me happy. I’m going to keep doing it because He will grant me grace and forgiveness.” That is not Christianity. That is urinating at the foot of the cross. Remember, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:31-32)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Paul warned that a time would come when people would not put up with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). However, with over 70% of adults under the age 25 thinking all beliefs are equally valid (according to Barna Research), sound doctrine is exactly what is needed. It is the Word of God that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23), and the Word must be taught for the purpose of “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and for taking the true message out into the world (Matthew 28:19-20) (Got Questions).

So do we need Christ’s church to be a grace-filled community? YES! We cannot, however let sound doctrine be discarded. We can’t just look the other way, while a brother or sister is in open unrepentant rebellion against God. It’s bad for us and it’s bad for them. What is more judgmental, confronting them in love to bring them back onto the right path or considering them lost and gossiping about them behind their back?

I said all of that to say this. You should watch these videos. Then you should start reading your Bible and see what it really says. Then decide whether you really want to do this or not. Stop playing Christian.

 

 

 

 

Being transformed and refusing to whine

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).

Some rights reserved by JD Hancock

The above passage frustrates the heck out of me. Between the words above and James 1:2-8, I find myself perpetually perplexed about how to jive my deepest gut-level feelings with what I know walking in faith looks like. This has been the theme of my last week on this planet. Like many standers in the midst of a divorce, I’m at the place where a new attack of circumstances comes in daily. Sadly, all too often I allow myself to become discouraged and distraught. I share my circumstances with my friends and fellow standers, rather than encouragement received through my deepening relationship with God. Honestly, sometimes you need someone to share your sorrows with, but am I allowing Satan to use me as a tool in a different way from my prodigal? I loved this statement from today’s Charlyne Cares:

Our prodigals are in the “far country” and are being blinded and deceived by Satan, but what about us? Are we allowing Satan to blind and deceive us? Are we allowing Satan to diminish our Savior? Are we allowing Satan to minimize God’s love for us? Are we allowing Satan to define who we are in Christ? Are we allowing him to take our blessing and our victory? (Minerva in Texas)

Again, I think it’s okay and even healthy to feel sorrow and grief over our situation and circumstances. I think, though, that I need to avoid having that become the theme of my life, that I share with others. I think that i have often failed in this regard, in my personal interactions and on this blog.

Romans 12:2 tells us, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. How do I renew my mind?

If we follow the instructions in these verses, our minds WILL be TOTALLY renewed and there’s no way we could have anything but peace! The challenge is retraining our minds to think that way, because anyone standing for marriage restoration knows how much time we spend doing the exact opposite of what these verses tell us, especially when it comes to the things we spend most of our time thinking and talking about! (FAM Blog)

My friend and fellow stander, Bill, said the other day in one of our chats that speaking life over everything is what”renewing” your mind is about. I have a different attitude and I believe due to that, God has torn down more walls for me (Bill). I think that we would all like to see more walls come down. So let’s at least try this. I have no great strategies to share. I will try to take captive every thought of complaining and try to focus on the good in my circumstances. I will try to pour out my grief and grievances to God alone, as He is the only one who can do anything about it anyway…

So let’s take up our Armor of God and step up! We are not standing or fighting FOR the victory; we are standing and fighting IN victory! Remember the promises. Remember that He made the heavens and the earth by speaking it and watching as the sun appeared, the clouds, the stars, the moon. God’s Word went out from His mouth and did not return to Him void; instead the earth and heavens came about. God has sent out His Word for each of our marriages. He has spoken the Word and it will not return to Him void; instead a healed and restored marriage will come about. Know that the circumstances can become overwhelming, but if you keep your eyes on the one being who holds all the answers, who holds all the solutions, who holds the truth, you will see the manifestation of your promise come about. (Minerva in Texas).

Wow! I love the idea that, We are not standing or fighting FOR the victory; we are standing and fighting IN victory. I need to tell myself this daily. I need to let my countenance know. I need to walk in victory and speak life. Will I still cry my guts out to God in the back yard? Yes, of course. My challenge is then not to go to the grocery store and walk around with a rain cloud over my head and talk to everyone I meet like Eeyore. It may be a bit too abstract to think about God’s greater purpose for my pain and about the fact that “it is finished“. My own sanity and my own walk with God, however, is not so abstract.

Finally, I love the idea from Pastor Tim Dilena, of Brooklyn Tabernacle, that the difference between intercession and gossip is whom we share the information with. I need to share my circumstances with my Lord not everyone else. I need to pray more and worry less so that Jesus can show up and get us off the program.

I know that God is working, so I have to get out of His way, and give Him the credit.

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.

Despair, Despise, and Die

Okay, kids. This one is a bit raw. I’m just going to put it out there. I’m hurting. I’m struggling. Maybe some of you are too. Hopefully this ministers to you in some way. Either way, I need to get it out.

Despair

darknessOkay, so I’m now two months and nine days into my stand. That isn’t that much time considering the years some people have stood. I’m praying in the morning. I’m praying on my commute. I’m praying all day long. I’m reading the Word. I’m listening to sermons. I’m praying in my back yard, screaming out to God. I’m kneeling, bowing, walking, standing, sitting, and prostrate in prayer. I am gathering with others in prayer. I am praying scripture over my prodigal spouse constantly. I am falling asleep listening to the Word. The enemy keeps turning up the heat, and I keep waiting for a breakthrough. Meanwhile, the “bad reports” role in and the circumstances pile up. Where are you God? What are you doing on my behalf? You say that, “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause” (Psalm 25:3), and yet I am being put to shame daily!

Despise

So I’ve been on a Steven Furtick kick, and I’ve been listening to sermons from Elevation Church. Most recently, I listened to two sermons that really got to me, Crash the Chatterbox pt. 3 and That Thing. In Crash the Chatterbox pt. 3, Furtick poses the the “what if” question. What if my worst fears come true? Won’t God still love me and be there for me anyway? Well, two months ago, my greatest fear came true, and my new worst fear is that she’ll never come back. I fear that I’ll grow old in loneliness, holding to God’s promise and law.

What if? Won’t God still love me and be there for me anyway?

The answer from my heart is, “I don’t care!”, and that, kids, is the PG version. I still don’t care. In That Thing, Furtick talks about how we’re pleading with Him to fix that thing that’s broken or hurting in our lives, but that God wants to fix our underlying thing first. What’s my underlying thing? I still want her more than I want Him. What’s more, I know that that is what He wants to change! I know that he is a jealous God. I spent all weekend crying out to God to change my heart. Instead of wanting Him more, though, I find myself despising God. I am angry with Him for withholding his blessing while I try to make a change that I feel totally unequipped to make, a change that may take years, a change that I want to get done now so I can have my wife back. I’m trying to yield to Him. I’m trying to hear His voice. I’m trying to change my heart. Meanwhile, Satan is screaming in my head that God is being unfair and unloving, that He can fix my situation but isn’t fixing it to prove a point, and that I’ll never live up to His expectations of me. Oh, God, help me!!! My head knows that God loves me no matter what. My head knows that if God is trying to get me to grow, that for my own good. My head knows that God is working on the other side of this mountain of circumstances, preparing to cast it into the sea. My head knows that his timing is perfect. My heart is really really really ticked off and hurt and becoming bitter… and that, again, is the PG version. Oh, God, help me!!!   

Die

How do I die to this? How do I truly die to self? How do I give this up? Honestly, I finally understand, “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). I get it. I’d much rather be with God than be here, going through this, but I still don’t get the “to live is Christ” part. I want to get that part. I want to be consumed by Christ. I want this pain to stop. I want to stop fearing every text message and email that the enemy is sending me through my wife. I want to stop fearing bad reports from my kids, my friends, and my attorney. I want to trust God. I want to thirst for God. I want to stop worrying about all of this crap and “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:25-34). How do I get my heart to follow??? How do I stop thinking more about what is absent than about what is present (all meanings of present intended)? Help me! God, in Jesus name, help! I have never felt so lost and in pain in all of my life. I have never felt so abandoned and rejected and betrayed in all of my life. I have never felt so alone and dark and miserable. I’m struggling to walk in victory. I’m struggling to get out of bed. I’m struggling.

I would say that I need God to show up, but I know that he never left. He’s right here with me, but I can’t feel Him. I can’t see Him. I can’t hear Him. I just want to be reassured. I just want to be comforted. I just want to be held…

7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:7-8 New Living Translation NLT)

“Come and talk with me.” God wants me to come and talk with Him. He doesn’t want me to scream and beg at Him all of the time, I’m sure. He wants me to come and talk with Him. I feel like I spend most of my time telling Him how nice it would be if he could rearrange the schedule so I could be talking with her instead of Him. I’m sure He loves that. Yet, I am angry with Him. Meanwhile, He loves me through it all. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Do any of you ever feel like this?? Seriously! Someone comment below and give me an Amen or something! Maybe I won’t feel so crazy and alone.